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Runners hit the wall, and entrepreneurs are no different. Find resilience and energy, even when you feel like you can’t go on.

It’s hard out there for an entrepreneur sometimes. The pressure from clients and employees is great, the hours are long, and the chance for failure is always around the corner. It requires unlimited resilience and boundless energy. Except those qualities are finite resources. Just as the most powerful marathoners can hit the wall, even the strongest leaders have their limits. Still, the organization needs you, and you need it, even when you’re exhausted. How do you get beyond the wall, even when you feel like you can’t go on?

Routines

Routines are your best friends. Load up on work during your most productive part of the day. Make sure you are eating and resting regularly. And leave some personal time each day to get centered and focused. Even 10 minutes of meditation is helpful; mindful breathing can allow you to connect to your deepest resources.

The Why

Be very clear about what gets you fired up, who you are trying to help, and what your goals are. Write it down. Display it on a wall, or carry it around with you. The why will sustain you when times get tough. Hint: Making money will only take you so far. You need to constantly connect with your why.  

Small Steps

Big leaps forward are awesome, and if you keep at it with enough skill and determination, they will happen. But there can be droughts of giant breakthroughs. Instead, be thankful for every small step forward. Take nothing for granted. Write each and every small victory down in a journal so you can look back and see just how far you have come.

ZZZZZZs

Get some sleep. Seriously. Tour de France cyclists, some of the most intense endurance athletes in the world, sleep up to ten hours per night to replenish their bodies and mentally refresh. Entrepreneurs, with their demanding schedules and responsibilities, need sleep just as badly. Find a sleep schedule that works for you and stick to it. Your business depends upon it.

Mentors

You have blind spots and weaknesses. Everyone does. A trusted mentor can see things when you are up against your limits. Find individuals who you respect and have been through the fires. Build relationships with them. They can use your energy, and you can use their wisdom. It’s a win-win.

Connect

Surround yourself with positive people that sustain you. Build these groups both at, and outside, work. Being an entrepreneur can be isolating, but humans are social creatures. Despite pressures, you have to find people who inspire joy, wisdom, and caring. Giving to and receiving from those who you love opens you to an abundant present, carrying you through the hardest of times.

Recover, Recover, Recover

Have recovery practices in place. Music, affirmations, inspiring spiritual words, gratitude journals, vision boards—anything that builds you up after you have been pushed down. Tough times will come. Have recovery infrastructure in place to so that you can rise again.

In running, hitting the wall is very specific. When glycogen is depleted, runners feel intense fatigue and negativity. Runners need to make sure that they are properly trained and that they keep up with the fuel needs of their bodies. Entrepreneurs are no different. They need to have strategies in place to fuel them through the wall and beyond. Some of the most brilliant solutions are just on the other side of the most challenging moments.   

Sleep is good for everyone, CEO and baby too

Brandon Frere famously made himself a promise that when he ran his own business he would never set an alarm clock. How did he know that getting enough sleep was a wholly rational decision that was both good for him, and—because he is responsible for hundreds of employees and thousands of clients—good for those around him?

Feeling Lonely and Isolated? Take a Nap

Recent research from UC Berkeley shows that sleep deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to social engagement. Unrested people live with the same sort of isolation as those with social anxiety. Even worse, well-rested people feel lonely after a brief encounter with a sleep deprived person. This creates a sort of social isolating virus that infects wider and wider circles.

Another study by the Rand Corporation quantified the loss to the American economy due to sleep deprivation at $411 billion per year. This is counted in terms of 1.23 million lost working days. Only Japan has worse per capita numbers. Even more serious, those who slept less than six hours per night were 10 percent more likely to die than those who slept between seven and nine hours.

There are many reasons why some people sleep less than others:

  • Age: Brain function responsible for regulating sleep begins to decline as early as 35 years of age
  • Genetics: A gene called “CRY1” regulates circadian rhythms. One variation of it causes longer circadian cycles, leading to less sleep
  • Career: Night and swing shifts are extremely harmful to healthy rest
  • Weekends: Sleeping late on the weekend can cause disrupted sleeping the rest of the week.
  • Relationships: Those in committed relationships are 20 percent more likely than single people to sleep seven hours or more per night.
  • Education: The higher level of educational attainment, the more you sleep. Over 70 percent of those with a college degree or higher sleep at least seven hours per night.

Why We Sleep

In Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, neuroscientist Matt Walker argues that lack of sleep takes a toll on everyone, from military fighters and first responders to airline pilots and truckers. It is also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes, heart attacks and more.

As a sleep consultant to the NFL, NBA, and numerous Fortune 500 enterprises, Walker is certain of the links between a good night’s sleep and optimal performance, on the playing field and in the conference room.

All of these studies seem to point to something that Frere knows intuitively: that allowing the body to get the sleep it needs is essential to how we operate and interact in the world, that a good night of sleep is one of the healthiest therapies we can give ourselves.

Sleeping until your body says it’s time to wake up is good for the body and good for business. It also saves you all that time hitting the snooze button.