What if entrepreneurship was a mental health condition?

What if entrepreneurship is a mental health condition?

I work with founders and entrepreneurs every day that are working so incredibly hard to be so incredibly miserable. Even the ones running successful companies – worth millions – are often as miserable as the ones just starting out. When I ask why they do it most of them say, “well I’ve always been an entrepreneur.” Then they recount some 6-year-old lemonade stand fantasy in an attempt to justify their misery. “Well I’ve always done it this way so I guess I’ve gotta keep doing it this way.”

You know what I think. I think the vast majority of “lemonade stand entrepreneurs” are still trying to find the missing ingredient in their happiness recipe. If only they’d give me a lifetime supply of Raising Cane’s sauce, I’d be happy. If only I could make my first million dollars, I’d be happy. If only I could close my series B round, I’d be happy. Unfortunately, the yellow brick road most entrepreneurs are on is long and winding and there is no end.

You see, I’ve got a solid bet that most entrepreneurs are just seeking the love, appreciation, affection, and validation they never got when they were hawking lemonade on the street corner. And it just so happens that they think if they build something amazing, or hire enough people, or generate enough revenue they they’ll find it. And if that’s you, I hate to break your bubble, but I know some pretty miserable billionaires.

Entrepreneurship is a socially acceptable means of anesthetizing ourselves from dealing with our feelings of lack. From a purely dopamine perspective, I’d classify it right along with nicotine, caffeine, heroine and crack. And once you get a taste it’s hard to give it up. The recidivism rate is equally as high and it damages just as many lives. But for entrepreneurs we’ve already normalized ADHD, bi-polar disorder, suicidal thoughts, and clinical depression. “Well, that’s just the price you pay for being an entrepreneur,” we say. Bullshit!

In Western medicine, we are prescribed a pill for our depression. In Western business, we just say “kill it” and “crush it” and build something bigger. In both scenarios, we rarely look for the real reason behind our discomfort so we end up with more pills, longer hours, unhappier families, divorce, treatment centers, ad infinitum.

What would it look like to have a healthy relationship with the business you’re running? To not feel trapped? To not feel constantly burnt out, stressed out, or like you’ve hit a wall. Whether you believe it or not, it’s possible. I’m a walking example it can be done. It’s not always easy…but either is launching a startup. And I know both…

If any of this rings true (or you think I’m completely full of shit) leave a message in the comments. If you’re ready to step off the yellow brick road to burn-out come join us.

Now close your damn laptop and go enjoy a weekend with your friends and family.


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