Stepping Back: Five Ways Driven Entrepreneurs Can Improve
Entrepreneurs tend to be focused, goal oriented, driven people.
The passion and focus are essential to success.
But they are also occupational hazards.
Many of the entrepreneurs I work with can become so focused on a project or business idea that they can lose sight of just about everything else. There's more than one story of entrepreneurs losing jobs, friends and spouses in pursuit of their business.
As driven as we are, it's important once in a while to put the window down and stick your head out. To let the wind blow through your hair. Take in the scenery. Metaphorically.
Not only is taking a breather good for your mental wellbeing, it can actually help you be a better business leader by temporarily changing the way we think or exposing us to new ideas.
According the most thorough research done on entrepreneurship creativity, by Harvard researchers in 2009, "associating"--seeing connections between things which may appear disconnected--is one of the five "discovery skills" that distinguish the most creative executives.
And according to modern, entrepreneurship lore, Steve Jobs came up with the name Apple while on one of his frequent visits to a Zen-like farm commune.
So here are five ways even the most outcome-obsessed entrepreneur can let their hair down, breathe, recharge and open their eyes to new sights and ideas.
Here are five ideas:
The first suggestion camefrom a friend of mine, Reid Tatoris, founder of startup AreYouAHuman. He told me, "I have some friends that have a small restaurant theyopened a few months after I started my company. It's great to talk to them because they have completely different set of goals and obstacles. It helps me to recognize the ways that we are lucky, and not just focus on my own challenges."
So, if you need a new perspective, Hang Out With Entrepreneurs in Different Field. While entrepreneurial energy is contagious, supplying that energy all the time can be exhausting. Try going to a meeting of entrepreneurs in a completely unrelated field.
If you're starting a media firm, for example, search MeetUp.com for a meeting of artists. Go, listen. Meet people who share your passion but face different challenges.
Read Fiction. A good page-turning romance novel or spy thriller can be distracting enough from calculating wholesale shipping rates to do the trick.
If you can't decide on a topic or a book title, pick a number between one and 25 and scroll down the New York Times Best Seller Fiction List to that number, buy it and read it. Warning: Fifty Shades of Grey is still number one.
Exercise. You don't have to be an Olympian. Or even an athlete. Or athletic. But going to gym or for a jog can clear your mind in ways other distractions can't. Even doing it just once can be the break you need.
And if you can find space in your schedule to try exercise routines such as yoga or tai chi, even better. Also, if you can swing it, pay for the classes. You're more likely to go if you're literally invested.
Make art. Like hitting the gym or the bike path, you don't need to be artistic to make art. In fact, it may be better if you're a complete novice.
But mixing colors on canvas or composing music (there are free, online sites) can be liberating. A few of the entrepreneurs I know who make art don't show it to anyone. They make it and destroy it. I'm not sure which one is more therapeutic .
Try extreme experiences. It's hard to fixate on entrepreneurship challenges while sky diving. Or bungee jumping. Or whitewater rafting. The fear will shout out everything else. And some--such as skydiving--will literally change the way you see things.
However you do it, there's plenty of scientific and anecdotal which says that taking a metal break will not only relieve stress but free your mind so you can be an even better entrepreneur and leader.