How to find perspective – when you spend all your time at work

Owning a business can be a hard, an all-consuming job. How many weekends have you worked the last few months? How many late nights? When you see your team members leaving the office at five-thirty or six-o’clock, are you jealous?

bookclubBuilding a business is pioneering work; it takes continuous effort over a long period of time. There’s also a great feedback loop there too – you can see that hard work pay off in more business, happier clients, money in the bank… But that continuous single-focused effort eventually leaves you depleted. And not just tired, because that can be fixed with a long night’s sleep or a weekend away. It can make you a one-trick pony – someone who is great at leading a business, but not so great at leading a life! The effort you are putting into building your business is somehow creating a smaller you.

One of the problems with this trajectory is that once you discover you’re in it, you’ve lost a lot of capacity to change it. Your friendships have withered, your community has diminished and you aren’t exercising, going out or doing those other replenishing things that can re-fill your soul. And all of that can give you perspective.

That’s when some business owners turn to their employees for help.

Instead of doing the work to foster outside interests, some business owners see a ready-made social circle right here in their offices, where they spend the most time. So they start taking folks out for lunch or out for drinks after work. This is normal healthy boss behavior, right? It is if you are there for the team but not if you are doing it to get your needs met. That quickly starts feeling icky and employees shy away. This makes the boss feel more alone so they try harder to reach out…

“Hungry shepherds eat the sheep.”

The business is there to meet some of your needs – your need for income, challenge, learning and opportunity. But your social and emotional needs should be met by your peers. Only another business owner can understand the loneliness of being the only one in the office at 8:30 at night. Another business owner resonates with the elation of closing a big client that you’ve been working on for 6 months in a way that your team never will. (A new client? That’s going to be so much work for us.”) Peers have unique insights, they’ve been there, they know.

Business friends are essential, but they aren’t enough by themselves.

As much as you need the perspective and understanding of other business owners who have been where you’ve been, you also need some folks who aren’t business owners who can tell us that there’s a world out there that doesn’t care about our business or our success. They care about us as humans and they like us regardless of what we produce. They are just friends.

This is why you need hobbies! You need a golf foursome, a church small group, a book club or a travel buddy. People who like to spend time with you regardless of business success. Someone who can tell you that your B.S. isn’t a rose garden and things really are going to get better.

When you want to get back into working out, it’s your peers and friends that are going to support that. If you need to make changes in your business, you employees are going to fight that – but your business friends can help you see a way through it.

How do you keep your tank full?

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