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
Before we jump straight back on the hamster wheel after the summer holidays, we should take a deep breath to pause, look inwards, and ask some fundamental ‘life’ questions. How do we take to our day to day lives the mental clarity we felt while standing atop that Mediterranean cliff edge? To answer this question, I’ve sought inspiration from Buddhist thinking
The recent World Cup in Russia has left me inspired. But being more of a ‘business nut’ than a ‘football nut’, I can’t help but try to draw the parallels between the two. Football, like the world it exists in, can be as beautiful, or as ugly, as complex, or as simple as you want it to be. Like business, it requires strategy, grit, determination, humility, and smarts.
There’s something special about the number 100. In sports, the American football field is 100 yards long. In science, 100 degrees Celsius is the boiling temperature of water at sea level. In finance, most currencies are divided into 100 subunits. So, when a high growth start-up I invested in five years ago increases in value by 100 times, for me, it is a special moment…and worth pausing to write about.