The term entrepreneur is thrown around more and more these days. Being entrepreneurial is a sought-after trait and it has become synonymous with adventurous, problem-solving, risk-taking, world-changing, and a thought leader. Even within the Fortune 100 companies we work with, people are being encouraged to be more entrepreneurial.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time around many of these successful high performing entrepreneurs. I am amazed by how they approach their entrepreneurial endeavors with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement. Equally, I have been sadly surprised at how many are missing one key entrepreneurial skill - the skill of Recovery.
Many of these entrepreneurs work practically nonstop. They are full of drive to achieve their end results, but in mid-launch they often find themselves not enjoying the ride as much as they wished, or not as much as they once did. The spark in their eyes becomes a little duller and their creative ideas don’t come quite so easily. They have lost some of their passion for their cause, but in many ways they can’t stop and they won’t stop.
A mindset that is characteristic for this group of go-getters is beautifully illustrated by a description I recently read on the webpage of a young entrepreneur's project which described him as someone who:
"can’t stop and won’t stop. That’s probably why coffee is his best friend. Running on sheer drive and a relentless vision, he will cross the finish line and then will keep on sprinting for miles. For him, there’s no point in slowing down when there’s limitless potential for change."
I find this last sentence particularly intriguing because someone once defined energy to me as "the potential for change". The more energy you have, the more potential for change you have. And a lot of modern entrepreneurs think of themselves as game changers.
What does a relentless pace and not slowing down do to our energy levels? Do we really maximize our impact and our potential to change the game by nonstop effort? At Tignum, when we ask our clients these questions we can see that moment of “aha” thinking when great leaders and entrepreneurs see the sad reality of the answers to these questions.
Oscillating between periods of intense output of energy and periods of adequate recovery, in which you regenerate energy, is really the key to sustain your performance and improve the quality of your time as you pursue your dreams and ambitions. What fascinates us is that many of these entrepreneurs pay amazing attention to detail. They prepare for their big pitches and many even approach their exercise and nutrition with the same intensity that they pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, the key element that they have missed is strategically shutting off. Even worse, when I observe these hard drivers, I often notice that they cannot relax. They are like addicts going through withdrawal symptoms just trying to do what the human physiology needs to do to repair and regenerate itself.
The thing with relaxation is that it is a skill that with regular practice works like a muscle. You become better at it. You relax quicker and more profoundly. Over time when you master relaxation you can even relax at will. Therefore, you need less time to get the adequate recovery that is so helpful to re-energize you and help you remove the brain fog.
Another very rewarding “aha” moment for our clients is when after practicing relaxation on a regular (and often scheduled) basis, they experience a clearer mind, a renewed passion for their work and hobbies, and more energy to give to others. They are astounded that these results are often experienced just in several days of strategic oscillation. Even greater is they regain that sparkle in their eye and that drive to change the world.
So here’s a quick self check: When you cross the finish line on a project, do you continue on sprinting for miles or do you celebrate and allow yourself time to recovery your breath? Do you find your life has become one big sprint or do you oscillate daily so you have short sprints followed by recovery? Do you plan for your relaxation and do you train yourself and practice relaxation to build your capacity? As you reflect on these questions, remember that the more energy you have, the more potential for change is available to you. Also, the more energy you have to inspire change around you.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and stay tuned as we will share some specific techniques to help you relax in future blogs.