Hannah Brenner

Managing the stress of entrepreneurship

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Source: Ruth Gwily

The image used in The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship article reminded me of a photograph I’ve seen by Kyle Thompson. The anxiety is immediately more apparent in the image by Ruth Gwily, but is certainly there in both images. In her image, the mattress is floating on top of the sea but in his the waves are his blanket. At first look, it seems like it would be comforting but there is also a sense of being washed up, or possibly being pulled back to sea that brings in a level of discomfort. Everyone knows the feeling when all the tasks you didn’t complete during the day surround you like a sea at night and make it difficult to sleep. I can only imagine how many of those nights it takes so start a business.

From the Detroit businesses we visited to Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, they all spoke of stress and taking chances. Kelleher smokes a cigarette every day as soon as he wakes up. Tony Hsieh from Zappos is a CEO and an introvert. Cathy Hughes  took her young child to class with her to chase her entrepreneurial dreams. They all managed stress in their own way to succeed.

Everyone has heard that starting a business involves sleepless nights, but hearing individuals talk about their experiences really drives the point home. In Inc magazine Bradley Smith said, “I’d wake up at 4 in the morning with my mind racing, thinking about this and that, not being able to shut it off, wondering, When is this thing going to turn?”

It all sounds negative and like too much to handle, but I wonder how many brilliant ideas came at 4am on a sleepless night. How many times did that same stress push someone to be their best and bring them success? It is a cliche, but I honestly do my best work sometimes when I procrastinate and create a sense of urgency. Managing your health and stress levels is the most important thing, but a few sleepless nights could be exactly what some new entrepreneurs need to reach their goals.

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