Everyone likes beautiful, happy-ending stories, right?
We love to watch Instagram highlights from CEOs that tell us that “being an entrepreneur is easy and fun” (they usually try to sell you a How To Entrepreneur Course right after too). We love to read about how cool it is to be your own boss, and how simple it is to run a business.
But very few people mention the other, less talked about side of entrepreneurship, so allow me to tell you what they don’t want you to know:
Back in 2016, I thought we were going down.
I had founded Jakt just a few years before, and we had gone through many ups-and-downs (like my business partner leaving). This time, I had no one to blame other than me.
I was suffering from anxiety and depression.
Leaving the couch was out of the question. I was… stuck. When I would say that I was working from home, the truth is that I couldn’t get my ass out of the house and face my team.
Their CEO, their supposed leader, was struggling and, no matter how much much I tried to hide it, they could feel something was off.
Many entrepreneurs live in a constant state of anxiety. I mean… how could we not?
Millions of dollars are involved but, more importantly, my life’s mission, and my (and Jakt’s employees’) livelihood is also at play.
And what is my coping mechanism?
I go back to what many entrepreneurs and CEOs do: work. I feel safe when I’m “hustling,” it is my comfort zone. The more anxiety I feel, the more I work – which, now I realize, just makes everything worse.
Don’t get me wrong: I love working. Jakt’s been my passion for years, and I’ve been gladly putting in 60-100-hour weeks for years.
But I, like many other business owners, became addicted to it. And it stopped bringing joy to my life. I needed to find a way to regain control over my mental health and start taking care of myself.
I was discussing this with Chris Schembra – a great friend and the founder of the 7:47 Club, when he asked me this:
“If you had more time in a day, what would you do with it?”
It really stopped me in my tracks, what a powerful question! Of course we can’t have more hours in the day but, in that moment, I started questioning my priorities. Where was I investing the largest share of my most significant asset: time?
Definitely not in myself. Work took over my life to a point where my self-care had been put in the back-burner…and it showed. I was exhausted. I was beaten up. And I wanted to feel better.
But if I could have more time in a day… I’d spend it taking care of myself – something I had neglected in favor of the business for many years. And I’d do more for me: play soccer, read more, and work on improving myself.
So I asked Chris: what do YOU do to take care of yourself?
Right away and without hesitation, he said: “meditation.”
I was intrigued and I wanted to know more. He told me more about the specific technique he practiced called Transcendental Meditation, and how it had really helped him all-around in his life.
I was skeptical. Should I give it a try? – I wondered. I always thought it was intriguing, and even heard about other people doing it, just not for me…
But I needed to start taking care of myself more and reduce my stress and anxiety, or I would work myself to death. Chris gave me the little nudge I needed to take a step forward. After all, what could I lose?
So I signed up for a course the next day – that was 6 months ago.
It changed my life.
I now meditate twice a day. I also moderate the Service Based Businesses Community and run Jakt, a $4M/year company with over a dozen employees, so I’m busy (this is not an “I reached Nirvana in a Tibetan temple” story)…
Meditating has become a non-negotiable in my life.
I now block off 30 minutes each day for it. It’s in my calendar – just as important as any business meeting. It’s an investment and, in my experience, it feels like getting superpowers.
Transcendental Meditation has helped me reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with leading a company while also increasing my energy and focus.
This is not to say that everything looks rainbow-y, of course not. Life will still throw rocks at you, no matter how much you meditate. But prioritizing my mental health has made me more prepared to deal with anything that comes my way.
It has made me feel closer to myself, my thoughts, and my emotions. I live happier, and I work better. What else could I ask for?
What’s the takeaway here?
As an entrepreneur, CEO, or business owner, it is easy to let ourselves be overwhelmed by our work – after all, it’s our dearest passion. Putting yourself first will not only improve the quality of your life but also help your professional performance. Transcendental meditation worked for me, but you have to find whatever works for you.
For years, I called bullshit on not only meditation but on anything other than just working harder and longer. I only recently realized the importance of prioritizing your mental and emotional health to grow as a leader and as a human being.
And before I go, one last shout-out to Chris Schembra. I’m forever thankful for that conversation we had.
Do you want to hear more about the importance of mindset in business? Here’s how to totally shift your perspective on sales and start loving them.