While there are many perks to entrepreneurial achievement, the stresses of running a big company can be crippling. Elon Musk, the CEO of three technology startups, said the highs of success come with terrible lows during a Twitter conversation on Sunday.
The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don't think people want to hear about the last two.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2017
Eric Diepeveen, the CEO of Netherlands-based gaming company Stolen Couch Games, tweeted that the Tesla and SpaceX founder's life looks amazing on Instagram. Tagging Elon Musk's Twitter handle, he tweeted, "I wonder if the ups and downs he had make for a more enjoyable life." Musk replied and started a brief Twitter conversation about stress, admitting that he feels as if he suffers from Bipolar disorder, though he's never been diagnosed.
Maybe not medically tho. Dunno. Bad feelings correlate to bad events, so maybe real problem is getting carried away in what I sign up for.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2017
Musk's moment of honesty came with a nugget of advice: "I'm sure there are better answers than what I do, which is just take the pain and make sure you really care about what you're doing," Musk tweeted.
Musk isn't the only one to feel the pressure of the job. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson shared Musk's tweets and added that starting and running companies brings unrelenting stress. "Managing that so that it doesn't eat you up and mess up your relationships is super hard," Wilson wrote in a blog post on Monday. "Some things that I have seen work well for people are regular (daily?) workouts, eating and drinking healthy, having a coach, and most of all, having a spouse who keeps it all in check."
Of course, life's other hardships can impact your ability to perform. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explained how Mark Zuckerberg helped her rebuild her confidence at work after her husband, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly of heart-related causes in May 2015.
"Mark Zuckerberg said to me not just 'do you need time off.' He said that, but he said: 'I am glad you're here because you made an important point today,'" Sandberg said on Sunday in BBC's radio program Desert Island Discs "Hearing that was so helpful. For me, getting out of the house and having something else to do, for me, was a lifeline. We help others by rebuilding them."
Two years after Goldberg's death, Sandberg co-authored a book with psychologist Adam Grant, called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. In it, she and Grant offer readers advice on overcoming life's challenges, including grief, hate, and violence.