The modern world inundates us with relentless stimulation of the senses. From iPhones to televisions to the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to switch off. This can, subconsciously, have an adverse effect on our behaviour as our brains do not get a break from this barrage of information. This issue is particularly acute with entrepreneurs, who by nature rarely switch off. Stress is also quite topical right now as many of us attempt to launch new ventures, products, or close new deals in the run up to Christmas.
A recent Economist article titled “The mindfulness business” explores this issue in detail:
“The constant pinging of electronic devices is driving many people to the end of their tether."
This, along with a high-pressure working environment, can lead to more stress than our mind and body should be exposed to. As the mindfulness gurus put it, we need to "disconnect to connect", a topic I wrote about quite extensively in my blog "Go and have a cliff edge moment" earlier this year. Tackling stress brings longevity to our entrepreneurial journeys and can help avoid the unwanted "crash and burn" outcome.
Armed with the knowledge that stress is unhealthy and unnecessary, many successful entrepreneurs take a pro-active approach and look towards eastern philosophy and spiritual practices for guidance. Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, for example, has introduced regular meditation sessions in his new venture, the Obvious Corporation, a start-up incubator. The founders of Google have inspired the building of a labrynthe on Google's campus for "walking meditation".These emotionally intelligent and socially conscious businesspeople will build happier teams and, as a result, more dynamic working environments. They are also likely to have a longer term footprint on their business and industry.
Stress is a choice and we can control it. You can step up and make a choice you may not currently believe you have: choose not to stress. Here is a selection of quotes that I feel have helped me develop a change of perspective and I think can help relieve entrepreneurs of this unnecessary, yet extremely common problem which holds back and cuts short many careers
Dennis Waitley, the American best-selling author, once said 'failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end…' Failure is often misunderstood, a dirty word, only to be whispered in hushed tones. Some of those closest to me have yet to achieve their full potential because of their subconscious fear of the ‘F’ word. In certain cultures, failing is taboo and carries individual and familial shame, like a metaphorical scarlet letter burning on one’s forehead.
In high school, I was a sprinter. Metaphorically that is. I took on way too much. I wanted to make it big, and do it fast. My ambition and enthusiasm for education, sports and extracurricular activities exceeded my output levels, mainly because I was spread too thin. ‘The fruit of patience is very sweet,’ my father repeated reassuringly over breakfast as I gulped down my hot chocolate, but the Urdu proverb didn’t resonate at all with a young man eager to take on the world.