Turn Entrepreneurial Stress into Passion

By Dr. Daneen Skube, Interpersonal Edge

Dr. Daneen Skube, executive coach, trainer, therapist, and speaker, addresses entrepreneurial stress – including its inevitability, three zones of stress, and finding passion in pursuit of your goals.


Question:

I’m just starting a business. I’m overwhelmed by all the work and learning ahead. Am I biting off more than I can chew? How do I know if I’m making decisions that will allow work/life balance? Can smart people start a business without experiencing stress?

Answer:

No matter how smart you are, beginning a business is inherently stressful. Moreover, no new business owner experiences work/life balance. Lastly, if you’re not biting off more than you can chew in launching a new business, it’s unlikely to succeed!

Work/life balance is an excellent aspirational goal. There are also times in our career that work or academic demands allow no work/life balance, during the short-term.

Imagine your car going up a steep, long hill. Your engine revs, your fuel intake is high, and your car works hard going up the hill. At the top, the road flattens out, your engine slows, your need for fuel lessens, and you achieve a smooth cruising pace. Any goal you’re passionate about is a steep, long hill for a while – such as entrepreneurial stress.

When we study stress ranges for human beings, there are three zones: 1) Boredom 2) Goldilocks zone 3) Overwhelmed. Turns out both boredom and being overwhelmed are stressful. Once we achieve a cruising pace, to avoid burnout, aim for the Goldilocks zone where the stress level is medium.

However, no new business or academic venture will begin in the Goldilocks zone. We’ll definitely not have the stress of boredom. We will feel like that car slogging up a long, hard hill, uncertain if it will make it to the top.

To the extent we’re more concerned about what other people think about us than our quality of life, we’ll get distracted when overwhelmed. When your entrepreneurial stress level is maximum, it’s critical to focus only on your own future success. If you allow the specter of future failure to haunt you, you’ll be running away from a ghost rather than pursuing a dream.

A tip to make entrepreneurial stress work for you

The best way to stay productive on a tough new work path is to get the maximum enjoyment from your current day. If you’re getting a graduate degree, don’t just stare at what you can do when you get your degree. Pick a program where the learning itself is enjoyable. You cannot win in the future if you delay all your gratification.

Brain science shows us that breaking a big goal into little steps gives our brains dopamine (feel-good opiate) with each step we complete. If we only focus on arriving at the big goal, we get discouraged and quit.

As author Simon Sinek observed, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” To operationalize the word “passion” build your plan with lots of small steps to celebrate and enjoy. Otherwise, you’ll lose motivation because you’ll only experience daily drudgery and stress.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once made a complementary observation that, “He who has a ‘why’ to live for, can bear almost any ‘how.’ “

Passion and small steps can make long nights feel noble, hard work satisfying, and risks less frightening. A powerful “why” helps us see a longed-for future, even though our current entrepreneurial stress – and the “how” – is foggy and dark.


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The last word(s)

Question:

As you mentor clients on workplace success, is there any one interpersonal habit you recommend that clients should cultivate?

Answer:

Yes, as Roman statesman Tullius Cicero, who upheld Republic principles during Rome’s civil war years, advised: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”


Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.

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