My therapist and I are trying to figure out what drives me, and it's been a rollercoaster. We've discovered an uneasiness with being idle that contributes to my motor, but it's mostly my inner adrenalin-junkie that keeps pushing me forward.
I wish the kind of adrenalin I sought involved jumping out of airplanes and could be contained to a single event, but I crave constant challenges. I want to know what I'm really capable of. And I can't help but consider the greater good--what could be--and I want it. I'm fueling a caffeine addiction because taking a rest feels the same as losing the battle.
This is common among women entrepreneurs. We're different than men, and that's good. We're supposed to be different. We feel like we have to be confronting something in ourselves at all times--to get better, be more successful, love the best we can, and prove ourselves to something we can't quite put our finger on.
This is a problem, but it's a good problem. If you're a woman entrepreneur, you likely feel like a failure somehow if you're not constantly proving yourself to be the powerful leader you see in the mirror. You look a little too hard for problems to solve, conflicts to resolve, or new ideas to create.
It's the 1 part worrier and 1 part warrior in a woman that makes well-deserved rest more exhausting and unnerving than it is rejuvenating.
There's a quote by Brene Brown that we women entrepreneurs need to hear. It's brilliantly simple, yet enormously hard to implement. She says "You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both."
At first glance, women entrepreneurs feel heartened to keep bad-assing their way through life. But when you think about it, she never said we should be either courageous or comfortable, just that we couldn't be both at the same time. This keeps bringing me back to a recurring theme in my life--balance.
This is the easy part for women. 'Muster the ability to do something that's frightening, or call upon strength to face struggles and pain'? No problem, we do it every day. The struggle for us is knowing when to turn it off--when to be brave enough to face ourselves and what we need. It's almost like the capacity for enjoying the fruits of our labor wasn't written into our genetic DNA.
For many men it's an easy flip of a switch. The Hero's Journey for a man is proving himself to his tribe. Fight the war, then get comfortable because Monday Night Football starts in 4 minutes. But for women it's more complicated, we're worriers and warriors, remember? The Journey of the Heroine is caring for the tribe, while proving herself to herself. But how do you turn that off? And do you ever get there?
This is the hard part for women. We were designed to work for something, and sitting idle for too long is almost painful. It's like we're Energizer Bunnies playing the heroine from dawn till dusk--caring for the tribe, and proving ourselves from one accomplishment to the next.
But what are you working for if the successes in your life just feel like an endless flight of stairs? A nicer BMW for the drive to work and a yearly vacation in Italy where you work from your iPad on the beach?
It's an intriguing dream, but an empty, boring reality. Don't sit in the valley and long for the peak, only to reach the peak and immediately long for others.
Instead, consider balance--making a conscious effort to rest in your success and knowing when that time is. Women entrepreneurs work tirelessly to prove themselves to themselves because society hasn't considered us business leaders for a long time. But that's changing. We're actually becoming more equal because we're proving our worth, and frankly many of the most successful business people in the world prefer women entrepreneurs for this reason.
So take a moment, sip on a Manhattan or two, take the kids and the dog for a walk, watch a movie with your husband, and breathe. You're working your ass off to get somewhere. So when you get there, celebrate. Acknowledge the effort. Be proud.