Winston Churchill once said “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. The question is how are we dealing with the stress, anxiety, and depression that happen while on the road to success.
An entrepreneur is often said to be living the dream, and the startup community encourages us to share only the pretty stories about our work and achievements. Truth is the joy of working on an idea you are passionate about is very refreshing but it is very very hard behind the scenes. Depression among entrepreneurs is a growing concern and we need to encourage people to share, speak up or seek help. Leadership is sometimes likened to the ability to hide your panic from others, so we have to hold up a smile and say “everything is fine”.
I just learned that 1 in 3 entrepreneurs lives with depression. 30% of all entrepreneurs experience depression, according to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. According to other researchers, many entrepreneurs share innate character traits that make them more vulnerable to mood swings and strong emotional states such as depression, despair, loss of motivation, and in terrible cases suicidal thinking.
Entrepreneurial depression has affected me a few times, after I read, I decided to share what I think could help anyone in this cycle.
Avoid comparing yourself
Measuring yourself in comparison to others means you’ll run the risk of being stressed and anxious. Moriarty, founder of 7 Cups of Tea once said “the bigger the gap between where you are and the expectations of where you should be, the higher the stress” and I couldn’t agree more. It is very important that we grow at our own pace and keep the competition within. Embrace failure when it comes, it’s part of the process. Learn to look back and appreciate the achievements regardless of how small they are.
Obsessing about details can be dangerous.
Entrepreneurs are usually visionaries and so It can be a little difficult to get your team to align with your goals around quality, customer service, operations etc and when their performance does not reach the high standards we have set, we get really impatient and freak out. We all need to learn that the growth and perfection that we seek in our team is a process and we need to be patient.
Rest Rest Rest before you Rest in Peace.
This is a mental note to me. The last time I wrote a tribute it was about how we should reduce the busyness. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Always make an effort to prioritize your physical and mental health over an extra hour of work. Sleep if you are tired don’t drug yourself with coffee. Save money for a vacation.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Try to speak about how you feel. Try not to reply “I’m fine”. Build a support system, people you know that genuinely care about you and tell them where it hurts. Entrepreneurs need to be able to reach out and get help when they need it. Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, which leads to people simply keeping their difficulties to themselves. The setbacks are normal, just remember that you’re not alone.
Thank you for reading, how do you cope with the depressive thoughts? What do you advise other entrepreneurs who may be suffering from depression?