By Penny Power OBE.
I wonder, do we have to have a shock, some kind of adversity in life, to turn things around and have a better, more fulfilling life?
Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could have enough self-awareness and control of our emotions, before we started out as entrepreneurs to ensure we maintain control of the life and business we want?
This is a question I asked myself after I came out of therapy. Once I had committed to repair myself after 35 years of hard work and tough expectations of myself, I discovered many things that are basically life-skills that we should know before we stretch and abuse ourselves as business owners.
However, would this take all the fun out of the journey? I guess in a way it would. I also think that people who have not faced challenges and found a way through them are not whole. In Lao Tzu’s words “to be whole’ first allow yourself to break”. No truer word said ,and taken literally, in my case.
In November 2017 I did break. I hit my wall. My mind and body said ‘enough’, I had burned myself too many times and I was forced to learn a from the lessons I had been give and never learned from . This was far from a self-indulgent experience, it was a tough year of discovery, forgiveness, taking personal responsibility and the most exciting part, learning to live with and embrace my personal vulnerabilities, the parts of me that make me who I am. To stop fighting that part of me.
I believed, until this moment in my life, that resilience was about how hard you could take the punch and stand up again. I was so wrong. The best boxer in the ring is the one who can avoid the punches, the one who knows how to dodge the blows.
In a study by Prof Michael Freeman in entrepreneurs and their mental health, he discovered that they were 50% more likely to suffer depression. I have very strong beliefs and understanding of this and want to share them here with you under the following titles
- Curse of the strong
- Compare and despair
- Loss of control of life
In my latest book I share my story, very openly, in order to create a fairer benchmark on ‘being an entrepreneur’. I will share what the 5 points above mean in a few words here.
- Curse of the Strong. Dr Tim Cantopher, a lead Psychologist from The Priory in the UK, identified a form of hidden depression. Seen among highly ambitious, self-disciplined, and reliable people who along with these traits rely on the validation of others for their self-esteem and focus on the needs of others before themselves. He called this depression, the “Curse of the Strong” as these people would never stay in bed and wallow in self-pity, instead, no matter how hard life is, they get up and keep going, to their own detriment, never letting anyone down.
- Dopamine. This is a critical brain chemical that is part of the ‘reward’ centre of the brain. It needs to be released to energise and keep us happy. Entrepreneurs set themselves extremely tough goals, and often very far out. They never notice the small gains, they always want more of themselves. Without this dopamine release life is definitely tougher.
- Compare and Despair. A modern problem brought on by the images of everyone else looking so shiny and successful online. The one-dimension you see of someone, without knowing their pain, challenges, sacrifices and reality. Yet you know all your own. This sparks feeling of lacking, of not ‘keeping up’ of being less than you should be. This is a great marketing technique by too many and we must be aware of being suckers to the game they are playing.
- Ambition. Named by Luke Johnson in his book “Start it Up”, as “a curse”. Not all of us have the embedded ambition that it takes to achieve the perception of success that we seek. The ability to sacrifice so much in order to achieve the millionaire life style that is sold to us daily. This vortex of ambition can be addictive, and yet, when you take time to consider what really makes you happy, that will be a true mark of success. When you understand your own values and what makes you happy and fulfilled, you will build a much better, and more financially viable business.
- Loss of control. I was given this quote 5 years ago, and this was a catalyst for change for me.
“Happiness is made up of three things.
- 50% is whether you are naturally a happy person
- 10% the achievement of what you want-today (and you will never be satisfied- so accept that 10%)
- 40% is about “how much control you have over your life and decisions that impact it”. This is the biggy, do you feel in control, or are you overwhelmed and in state of panic, not knowing what to take off your list of things to do. Is someone else controlling you. The list of reason for this lack of control is very personal.
Burnout, what a gift to us all. When it happens, you are given the gift of life again, use this opportunity wisely and know that ‘allowing yourself to break, will make you more whole than you have ever been”.
That is my journey and I have never been more happy or fulfilled as I am today.
About the Author:
Penny Power OBE was awarded her OBE in 2014 for her contribution to entrepreneurs in the digital economy. A mother of 3, married for 29 years and an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. Penny professionally speaks about life in business, she believes we all need to take responsibility for our mental fitness and supports business owners through her coaching and her Mastermind Groups. Penny’s book “Business is Personal” is available on audio, print and kindle and you can connect with her on Twitter and through her website.
Free Chapter of penny’s book here www.pennypower.co.uk/freechapter