Guest Blog By Tracy Scott, Founder and CEO of Tracy’s Gourmet®
The death of Don Cornelius, American television show host and producer of Soul Train, Kate Spade, the fashion designer who co-founded fashion design house Kate Spade New York and Lowell Hawthorne, the founder and CEO of Caribbean restaurant Golden Krust, deeply saddened and had a profound effect on me. Because I enjoy reading about the lives, successes and failures of other entrepreneurs I could not help but read about their stories only to discover that each one committed suicide. Being honest, I could not help but think about how being an entrepreneur for the past five years has affected my own mental health.
Is Our Entrepreneurial Wellness Sustainable?
The question “What keeps the CEO up at night” is a common one among entrepreneurial circles. Glorifying working 12 – 18 hour days, poor work-life balance, working harder than the next company to be successful, having skin in the game, sacrificing family and friend’s time, knowing your numbers, knowing your exit strategy, talking to investors, meeting with board of advisers are all common expectations and behaviors for entrepreneurs. But are these sustainable? A sustainable business is what all companies strive for. However, what about a sustainable founder, CEO or ME? Are entrepreneurs asking themselves if they are sustainable? Or, is this question being asked of them by their peers, investors, advisers, friends and family? If not, it is a question that I believe we entrepreneurs should begin asking ourselves. A research study was published in 2015(1) that explored the psychological stressors of entrepreneurs. It found that 72 percent of, or three in four, entrepreneurs reported experiencing mental health issues, with about half of them reporting at least one lifetime mental health condition. The numbers were significantly lower for non-entrepreneurs. This statistic worried me, but it also confirmed for me why I need to accept my limitations physically, financially, emotionally and mentally.
Yes, I may want to be a successful brand with great societal impact, profitable, sustainable, and have a good exit strategy. But I must work within my limitations and resources to accomplish it – and that’s perfectly fine. I can’t push myself to perform at the level or pace someone with unlimited resources and contacts has, but I can be proud of myself. I can also refuse to allow the extreme highs and lows of the entrepreneurial life to cause me to stress and emotionally eat.
My wellness became my business which turned me into an entrepreneur. However, becoming an entrepreneur was not supposed to decrease my mortality rate or increase my susceptibility to depression and suicide. That is why I have made self-care an integral part of my life through yoga, running, (even at my turtle pace), spending time with friends and family who are positive and care about me and using my adult coloring book when I do feel stressed. Most of all, I ask myself every day, “Am I sustainable? Is what I am doing sustaining me for a lifetime of joy and happiness?”
*Source: “Are Entrepreneurs Touched by Fire?”
Author: Tracy Scott is the founder and CEO of Tracy’s Gourmet®, a specialty Foods Company based in North Carolina.
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