When I do guest lectures, etc., I’m always asked about how many hours I work. There’s a perception that in order to build a company, you have to hand over the rest of your life and all of your working hours. They’re always surprised by my answer…
I don’t work stupid hours. Not any more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always thinking about my work, it’s an intrinsic part of me – but I’m not at my desk for the same number of hours each day. I have time off. I relax. I hang out with friends, family and I have me time too. I actually have balance. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
In fact, without balance, I’d be burned out. I would have hit a wall and washed myself up. By standing back and breathing and remembering to put other things into my life, I have a happier overall life. Which means I’m in a better place to work more strategically and give more to the business.
Smarter, not harder. I know you’ve heard it, but many of us forget to practice it. To be a “unicorn” (should that be your goal, we’ll address that in another article!), does not mean giving up your life. And if it does, is that really what you want? What sort of life is 100 hours a week chained to your desk and not seeing your loved ones? Even if you barter with yourself that it’s for a period of time, life seems too short to buy into that. You don’t know how long you have on this planet, or what’s around the corner.
It’s a health driven rationale from me. I find that if I’m tired and over worked, I get into a vicious cycle of not eating properly, not sleeping properly (oh the irony!) and then not exercising (who has the energy). That’s a guaranteed way to be less productive and position myself for failure. Success breeds from successful living, that means having a healthy mind, to have perspective, to be able to navigate bumpy roads and have good perspective.
However, a large part of what is required as a CEO / founder is relentlessness, but that is not to be confused with “time in”. It’s easy to see them as one and the same, but they’re not. One is about hours worked on a task, the other is being strategic in your thinking and dogmatic in your view of driving forward.
Don’t buy into the “busy” bullshit. We don’t have to wear the “busy” badge to have honour in what we’re doing and feel valued or worthwhile. The smartest and HAPPIEST people I know have figured out how to feel valued without that, but also how to get results without having to give over their entire being.