During my journey with CCAW, I experienced some extreme highs and lows. There were times when we were on top of the world and had more customers than we could handle. There were other times when we wouldn’t survive unless I figured something out quickly. I know from talking with other entrepreneurs that extremes are a normal part of the journey. Apparently, it’s part of the package deal you get when you sign up for achieving something great.
People often believe that entrepreneurs are different than everyone else. This is (somewhat) true. Where others see a problem, we see an opportunity to fix a problem. When others avoid a situation with a high probability of failure, we grab onto it. Mostly, though, we’re just like everyone else. Entrepreneurs experience the same emotions and have the same thoughts as everyone else. Yes, we motivate our teams to push through adversity. Yes, we believe we can pull a rabbit out of a hat. But we also have the range of emotions you’d expect when things are going better than anticipated or horribly.
My first few years as an entrepreneur, I struggled a bit with this. I felt like I always had to have the answers. I had to be constantly optimistic. I couldn’t express how unsure or worried I was. I couldn’t openly say that I didn’t know what I was doing. Eventually I learned that this wasn’t sustainable or realistic. I was human, so acting like I was a machine just wouldn’t work. Through luck and networking, I found my saving grace: a support system.
Support systems are critical to help entrepreneurs (and everyone else for that matter) keep going through extreme times. Peer groups, family, business coaches, and mentors can all serve as part of your support system. They give you a way to talk through what you’re experiencing and feeling. They help you make sense of things. And really good ones help you come up with a path forward. All of this helps you maintain your mental wellness.
If you’re thinking about doing something great (or are already doing it), consider who could support you during the inevitable highs and lows.