by Francisco Serrano, CEO at 121
Striking out on our own was never going to be easy. By starting, owning and growing a new enterprise, we accepted the sleepless nights, gluing our eyes to computer screens, languishing for days at a time behind a desk. It’s rough, yet it’s our life, and we love it.
But should we? A growing societal conversation in the United States has been revolving around mental health and it is beyond time that we examine how it plays a role in our entrepreneurial and small business communities.
Anecdotal evidence shows that entrepreneurs face mental health issues at a rate that surpasses the general population. Scientifically speaking, a 2015 study conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco indicates that there is a real problem .
Herein lies the crux of the issue for many in our field: where is the balance struck? It is seemingly impossible to enter any market with a fresh idea while taking personal days. Any thoughts of growing your business go out the window with unplugging for a few hours. But there are some simple truths we must accept if we want to combat mental health issues as a community.
You Are Not Lazy.
It is easy to look at the working habits of peers and feel the fire of competition. If they are working 60-hour weeks, you’ll work 70. Anything to stay ahead of the pack, as there is nothing worse than being left behind because of sloth.
But you’re not lazy. A competitive spirit can indeed be healthy and is probably what has kept you on this path in your career thus far. However, shaming yourself into keeping up with the Joneses of your industry opens the floodgates of distress into the framework of all your actions.
A better utilization of competition is to not engage in one upmanship, but to become more efficient. Creating better strategy, defining S.M.A.R.T. goals, operating with speed and taking better advantage of available hours allows for enjoying the time spent away from business related projects.
Your Business Does Not Define You.
This may be one of the toughest truths to internalize. We invest so many resources and our own time in what we do that it becomes deeper than a reflection of who we are, it’s an extension of self.
It’s time to dissociate. The intertwining of your soul and the heart of the business is poetic but dangerous. Do you know who you would be if your idea does not get off the ground or your business stagnates or regresses?
Rediscover or seek out your passions and be more than the office. There are numerous studies linking work life balance to higher productivity amongst employees, but I would hazard to say that these findings apply to entrepreneurs and leaders as well. Creating a healthier balance between work and life forms an in-depth relationship with self and a better understanding of self-worth.
It’s Okay to Get Help.
For far too long, there has been a stigma surrounding getting help when it comes to mental health. Thanks to celebrities such as Kevin Love speaking out about their struggles, the discourse surrounding mental health is starting to shift. However, the world of business has felt largely insulated from such dialogue.
If you feel like it is time to take more control over your own mental health or are already suffering mentally, seeking out help is a great decision. The constant pressure, mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks aren’t indicators of success, they are signs of a pervasive problem of mishandling a delicate subject in our community.
The advice written here may help some, but I understand that sometimes a little more is needed to get your mind where you would like it to be. The National Institute of Mental Health continues to be an excellent resource for finding additional help near you, as well as the nonprofit No Shame On U which includes resources outside of the United States.
Your business is important, but so is maintaining your sanity. Ambition and self-care are not mutually exclusive, even if it appears that way. Show personal mental health the same care and devotion you give to your organization. Because you deserve it.
Francisco Serrano is the CEO at 121, a branding powerhouse with offices in the USA and Mexico. Under his leadership, 121 has created a disruptive branding model based on SPEED, becoming the go-to day-to-day branding partner for Fortune 500 companies like Reckitt Benckiser, Hershey’s and Audible, to name a few. As a team leader, team player, and as an entrepreneur; and by sharing his passion and fervor for branding through SPEED, Francisco has become a reference in the industry.