Steven is an amazing videographer who takes risks to capture the feeling of the products he helps market. He is building a thriving business. Eight months ago though, Steven called to tell me about burnout and his “bleak” prognosis as an entrepreneur.
The big secret of successful entrepreneurs that few talk about is sustaining passion. Yep, successful entrepreneurs know how to sustain passion – beyond the initial honeymoon phase of the big dream.
Naturally, when the rush of a brilliant idea floods an entrepreneurial spirit, passion greases the engine of activity. They don’t sleep much, food becomes less important somehow and the hours they happily put in exceed twelve a day.
But what happens six to nine months later…when hurdles grow high or sideways? What happens when the revenue to keep the enterprise afloat isn’t flowing? What happens when supporters begin to quietly voice their doubts or fears? When even the entrepreneur experiences self-doubt?
I’ll tell you about one successful entrepreneur I’ve worked with closely – Steven, yes the very one.
Steven scribbled a “note to self”: My passion is ebbing! What to do?
He took a hard look at all the domains of his life: a check-in, of sorts. What was happening for him cognitively, emotionally, relation-wise, spiritually, somatically (with his body) and across all five – integration-wise?
He found some seriously unmet needs. Cognitively, it had been months since he read anything of interest besides sales figures. He felt his mind going numb and his conversations becoming stale.
And emotionally, well, he had so immersed himself in working at his dream, he had forgotten the feelings that it originally evoked…sort of like going on “auto-pilot”. In fact, he wasn’t feeling much of anything these days.
Steven was wise enough to recognize that to sustain passion, he needed to care for himself – all of himself, not only the entrepreneurial part. So he had to go out and find support for the domains of this life where he was experiencing unmet needs.
What did he do? First, he signed up for a class at the Academy of Science – something he had always wanted to do. He figured the stimulation and ideas of classmates would juice up his own thinking an imagination – get him cogitating again, in a wild, new way.
And next, he asked his girlfriend for recommendations of her favorite poetry (he had observed her emotional responses to poems over time). Though poetry hadn’t been high on his list of favorite things to do with very limited spare time, he tried it on.
Being disciplined about diet, rest and exercise, Steven didn’t change much in the somatic area, and he felt fortunate that his relationships were strong and vibrant. So he concentrated on the unmet needs in the two areas he recognized needed help. And he went out and got support; a class (with instructor and schedule and accountability) and his girlfriend’s suggestions.
You might wonder what all that had to do with his business enterprise? And while Steven knew there wasn’t a direct line he could draw, he understood that HE WAS HIS ENTERPRISE, and if he didn’t take care of himself, really care for himself, the passion that fueled getting his dream into the marketplace would run dry.
Sustaining passion rests on two important questions every entrepreneur must ask himself or herself:
What unmet needs do I have?
Who/what can support me in taking care of myself?
And though successful entrepreneurs may use different language for the questions, they know that sustaining passion over time, requires self-care and support.
Oh and Steven? He went on to successfully grow his business by landing a well known and creative client…which led to more work. Today he has 4 employees and his enthusiasm is almost uncontainable when he talks about the future.
And you? What are you doing about sustaining your own passion when the inevitable hurdles and dips appear?
Check-in with yourself across the domains of your life. What’s happening for you emotionally, cognitively, relationally, spiritually, physically and in the integration of those? I hope you’ll take note of ALL of yourself; find what needs aren’t being met and gather the resources to fulfill them. The world needs you and your passion.