You as a founder, push through boundaries, invest to achieve the dream, sacrifice a lot – fueled by the passion. You feel the responsibility and take accountability to design, shape and create the future. You don’t stop at the first rejection, look at problems as opportunities and inspire others. You support your peers, help employees and take the blame for every mistake in your organization. You have the ability to sustain high stress and pressure.
Founders are super humans, who have figured it out no matter age, education or financial background.
Feels wonderful to read, right? This is why I love to be an entrepreneur and founder, it is in my DNA and I can’t help it. While writing this paragraph, I felt energized and thankful.
What Ariana Huffington, Elon Musk and Joel Gascoigne have in common? No, doubt, they are very successful and inspiring on their own way, but they also have in common, that on the peak of their success they faced exhaustion, unhappiness and suffered under pressure. Joel Gascoigne, CEO and Co-founder of Buffer, a social media engagement tools startup, describes his experience in his blog as:
“I lost motivation. I just didn’t care. I knew I cared deeply, but I had nothing left. I couldn’t get up in the morning. I felt very sensitive and emotional. It was like anything could set me off, and make me well up. I cried a lot, by myself and with people close to me.”
One of his journal entries from that time reads, “I’m feeling this general dull sadness or struggle in me,” while another one reads, “Everything feels harder, and I’m generally feeling a cloud over me and more low in energy and pessimistic than usual.”
These are just examples of Founders being trapped in the successful but not happy environment, even worse they getting more unhappy the more they succeed. In the article below I have another example of my client, who kindly allowed me to share his story, to inspire others.
The first step is intimidating, you need to admit!
Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of burnout is that it emerges differently in every person. For some, it sneaks up in small ways over time; for others, it strikes without a moment’s notice. When you’re consumed by working hard toward your goals, it’s not always easy to recognize that you might be headed for a breakdown. Please reflect and answer the questions below sincerely:
• When was the last time you felt energized?
• Why did you first start the company?
• What’s keeping you in the CEO role today?
• What do you love about your founder role?
• What percentage of the time do you feel happy at work?
How do you feel answering the questions, what do you feel reading your answers?
What we should do!
I believe we need to stop putting ourselves on a pedestal or even worse allowing others to put us on a pedestal, I’m a founder but I’M NOT A SUPER HUMAN. I have emotions, I have energy level and I evolve – I accept my weakness and commit it, when I feel I’m not on my high performance level I will ask for help, I look for guidance, take coaching, make breaks or look for a sabbatical, whatever fits my needs. The most important key is to make time to reflect on questions like above and act upon the answers – Burnout is a symptom and not the cause.
Look after yourself!