I had the privilege of participating as a panelist at a top women’s conference in Washington, DC on Saturday May 5th. “Women Leading the Future” brought together the brightest thought leaders in the areas of global entrepreneurship, finance, health care, wealth management, politics, social media, and many other topics relevant to today’s entrepreneur. (http://www.womenleadingthefuture.org/).
I was on a panel discussing women’s leadership with Kathleen Warner, COO of StartUp America (http://www.s.co/) and Betty Hines, Board of Directors and Chair of Women Presidents Organization (http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com/).
One of the women in the audience asked, “As a new entrepreneur with limited cash, what is the one thing I should be investing in?” For me, the answer was immediately obvious: “Yourself.”
As an entrepreneur, every day I feel as though I’m simultaneously moving at lightning speed and at a snail’s pace. I can’t keep up with the pace at which my own progress is propelling me, and yet I grow frustrated that things aren’t happening more quickly.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Entrepreneurs by design are not patient. We have big visions and grand plans for changing the world. We want to build our products and services faster, to reach our customers faster, and to grow faster. The pace of growth is usually never enough for the eager entrepreneur. We look around and convince ourselves that everyone else has it figured out, and that they are moving much faster than we are.
This reinforces exactly why we need to inject breaks from our relentless schedules to simply just be. Without scheduled self-maintenance and care, we’ll keep going until we crash and burn.
From time to time, entrepreneurs must re-direct their business passion into their most important relationships – both internally and externally. Experience has taught me that I am a much more grounded and effective leader when I set aside time for introspection, meditation, exercise, and time with family & friends. When we nurture ourselves, our friends, family, employees, and customers get the best versions of who we are.
When we satisfy our spiritual (meditation), intellectual (learning), emotional (friends/family), and physical (exercise) needs, we are able to operate at a much higher level of effectiveness. These are the four gas tanks we must keep filled. We can’t run on empty.
There are lots of articles and books out there that address the importance of self-care and self-renewal. I’m not saying anything groundbreaking. I’m simply issuing a reminder to follow the airplane oxygen-mask theory in order to live your best life: Feed your own oxygen needs first so that you have the strength and energy to care for those around you.
What are your strategies for self-renewal? Please share with us.