Life as a business owner can be a bit of a wild ride, especially when you are starting out. You likely haves excitement, anxiety and hope in equal measure. Entrepreneurs never want to be in the position where they should have worked harder and smarter to avoid failure meaning they try to eke out every last bit of effort they can manage. Unfortunately, this leaves relatively little room for proactive mental health habits and mindfulness.
Entrepreneurs tend to fit a certain personality profile. Ambition and goal orientation lead the way followed closely by curiosity, organization, efficiency and work ethic. Introspection and mindfulness are generally relegated to the footnotes with scant regard for the potential impact plausible from their inclusion.
On the face of it, it seems like taking momentary steps back is shirking vital tasks but there is significant value in decluttering the mind and practicing effective mindful habits.
Use Mindfulness as a Tool
Most busy executives don’t see the value in it. They see it as slowing down or fruitless use of time that could be spent building a company. The truth is, mindfulness is a tool that can help improve anyone’s life, regardless of industry or position title.
In the rapidly changing environment of entrepreneurship, the ability to stay present and keep abreast of what is happening around you couldn’t be understated. Staff dynamics, competitor threats, opportunity and direction all require you to stay in the moment and that can’t be done if your head is buried in task driven projects all the time.
Mindfulness isn’t the suggestion that you vanish on a 3 week yoga retreat in a silent Buddhist temple. It is simply taking uninterrupted time to become aware of what is going on in your world. Your brain is likely steering the ship and every so often it needs a little time to put its feet up and take stock.
Staying present is how you take in and experience everything that is happening around you, including your staff. The old adage that “no man is an island” implies that a leader needs a trusted team around him to delegate certain tasks and to offer advice when necessary.
Remind Me… What Was the Point of Starting Out Again?
Being in business for a while means that plenty of things blend into daily life without stopping for a pause. It becomes easy to unwittingly disassociate with the reason for starting out in favor of keeping things running smoothly. You become an employee of your own company rather than the creative passionate visionary who kicked the show off.
The numbers are great and profit is essential for success but was the purpose to see a certain figure in a bank account or was it to realize the dream of starting your own company? If you took a moment, what would be on the list of things you were grateful for during the whole process of getting to where you are?
Countless people were part of the journey and lifted you up to where you are now. Each wanted to see the successful pursuit of your passion and no doubt made sacrifices for you to achieve it. Humility is a great exercise for when you might be veering off-course of your true self. Reconnecting with the original purpose and aims highlights the effort it took to get there and can refuel the passion for your enterprise.
Appreciating the Value of Learning
Humility also takes another form by way of learning. Humans will always be a work-in-progress. The business life-cycle is proof. Countless industries whales get to a stage of maturity, stagnate and are soon replaced by the innovative up-start with a fresh approach. Standing still means going backwards in business. It’s almost a cliché at this point.
Staying mindful of the fact that others have valuable things to teach you keeps you grounded. Businesses and entrepreneurs learn, create, innovate and adapt so much over the first 5 years and once they feel established can settle.
Mindfulness allows the headspace to recognize where you need to freshen up, learn something new or refurbish your curiosities. There are always improvements to make, whether it’s a business skill or something that improves your quality of life.
Problem Solving Performance Enhancements
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a vast increase in home gym equipment sales, families availing of surrounding green spaces and uptake of zoom fitness class. Of course, the importance of fitness is not to be underplayed but the endorphins released have aided in giving clarity of mind and keeping people present.
Mindfulness takes many shapes and has many purposes. High on that list is the headspace afforded to the practitioner. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and hard work unless it stands in the way of a solution. A busy mind leaves little opportunity to be creative, see opportunity and appreciate realities of now within the bigger picture.
Whether you rather meditative moments like many of the world’s most prosperous entrepreneurs or choose exercise to create the space is entirely your own choosing. What is important is the ability to take the time to recalibrate and figure things out.
Methods of Mindfulness
Perhaps there are negative undertones still attached to proactive mental health but the frequency with which the famously successful reference early exercise, meditation, creative expression or some other form of mindfulness is undeniable.
Even Benjamin Franklin, way back in the 1700s practiced meditation. He would lie down and hold a hammer half an inch over his head and think. If he fell asleep, the hammer would bump him to wake him up. We’re not suggesting that extremity but carving out time for your mind to settle keeps you from being in a reactive place mentally.
When you start the day being reactive you can already feel as if you’re falling behind, before even starting anything. Take control over the first few moments of the day to just enjoy existing. The main goal is to stay in control because you control your reactions, not the other way around.
Entrepreneurial burn-out is ever-present through the initial years and beyond. Curiosity, creativity, passion and ambition can all begin to wane. However, finding a haven is key. It could be as simple as taking 20 minutes to lie down, quieten your mind and focus on silence or a meditative track.
The most important step is actively dedicating some time to yourself. Once you have time set aside, use it to focus on the present moment without judging or holding on to specific thoughts. Allow the mind to wander but always try to bring it back to the moment at hand.
By doing this repeatedly, you begin to feel a sense of relief and clarity over time as your thoughts have space and time to sort themselves out. Give it a try but whatever you do, don’t drop a hammer on your head.