Leadership · Entrepreneurship

Combating Burnout and Staying Hungry

Daniel Eberhard CEO, Koho

October 29th, 2014

Going to switch things up a bit here. I want to talk soft skills and self-optimization.

Most days I am rushing to work because I am literally excited to take on today's challenge. It is one of the great things about being an entrepreneur.

However..

We all hit slumps, skids and stalls and it is well known that part of what separates the good from the great is resilience.

What I would like to know is personal best practices to staying hungry and staying passionate. I believe this is when we are at our best, in terms of creativity, quality, leadership and emotional engagement.

What I want to know is how people avoid or manage these speedbumps. Do you just shut up and push through it? Do you take a step back and reset? If so, what do you do when you are stepping back?

I'm sure this as all personal so there are no wrong answers but very interested to hear what people have to say. Please be specific regarding your methodologies.

Thank you.

*edit & additional context *

Great feedback so far.

To be clear, I am not burning out at all but I do think this subject is worth the exploration. There are procedural methods employed by people which allow them to produce their most inspired work. I don't think its as simple as either 'you're hungry or you aren't'.

Most of us would be considered high performers. I believe moving/maintaining the needle at these level requires more and more deliberate processes.

Keep the ideas rolling.
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Sedef Onder Managing Partner + Strategist, Clear Inc.

October 29th, 2014

I'm not sure "staying hungry" can be learned. My take is that you either have fire in the belly.. or you don't.

My personal solution to burn-out (which often happens to those most intensely focused or passionate about their work)... was to step back and re-assess my situation. I realized I wasn't recharged by my success when focused on the "wrong" things (ie., goals or raison d'etre's that didn't align with mine).

When focused on what mattered to me or gave me purpose, I was actually re-energized by the work much of the time. And felt more in control of my time/schedule and life overall.

To clients who experience this, I suggest they spend less time "following" a schedule, and make considered choices for what they prioritize and act on. Respond rather than react. Always keep your eye on the bigger picture, rather than the momentary stumbling blocks and inevitable obstacles.

Separately, I agree with you about pushing through, being resilient and persistent when facing work challenges (whether you're aligned with them or not). It works and you can succeed. But that is precisely the type of habits and behavior that can unintentionally lead to the feelings of burnout in the long-term.

Sandy Fischler Experiential Marketing Director | Event Producer | Event Management | Entrepreneur

October 29th, 2014

I go through this all the time. What I do is step away for a day, sometimes two. 

I find that I get overwhelmed and need processing time to let my mind filter through the jumble and eventually a new path forms and I'm off again. I like to think of it like a pot boiling over, you have to reduce the heat the bring it back to a simmer. When everything is boiling over, it's frothy and you can't really see what's going on, so you get overwhelmed. Reduce the heat, take stock of where you are at, what needs to be done, and regroup. 

I don't ever have a problem staying hungry, there is no going back for me, only forward. But sometimes I need to stop and take stock of the options, look at the various paths, make sure I'm staying on course towards the goal. A day of reflection has never destroyed anyone's start-up.... 

Sri Vemulpali Member of Technical Staff at Riverbed Technology

October 29th, 2014

From my perspective, your body is valuable. Its the greatest tool you have, to interact in this world. So when it needs rest sleep, when its hungry, feed it, when its need emotional attachment, give it. Take care of it. If you do not feed you get really slumped, Or do not over feed it. Everything should be moderate. :)

Do meditation to relieve your stress. In stress one make insane decisions. Pushing yourself, working too hard when you need rest. ....

If one is thinking to get motivated, then one needs to answer why he has to get motivated. This is the basic gap, why people push themselves. But, when one answer the purpose why he wants to be an entrepreneur driven by higher objective, and look at your inner core values how they are connected, you are in serene to pursue. One do not see their sacrifices as cause, neither one's setbacks as setbacks, nor one's pain, what they express as great endeavor. The very nature of struggle transforms in to passion and joy. Anyone can realize with deep introspection.

All the best.
     


Kevin ODonnell

October 31st, 2014

Business is like running a marathon that has no finish line, right?  Pacing is all-important.  Some of it is managing your physical strength -  eat smart, sleep regularly, exercise, avoid the bad stuff, etc..  Most of it is managing your emotional energy and the relationships with your colleagues, which is also easier when you're feeling well-rested, balanced.  Following a simple rule is helpful:  Arguing is easy; understanding is difficult.  It takes energy to listen and think carefully.  But if you do, you'll avoid a lot of mistakes ... and arrive at your goals a lot sooner, with less drama.  Those are the qualities of great leaders (see:  James MacGregor Burns).
It's fine to hit the accelerator from time-to-time ... but you should already have a conscious plan for how long.  A constant upward acceleration leads to several likely conclusions - none of them especially good; that is, unless you actually enjoy failure.

Powell Loskamp President at Money Flow Public Co.

October 29th, 2014

Inspired Action!

As a part of your morning routine, find a daily practice that develops clarity and focus regarding your purpose / mission, then set an intention to take action accordingly. 





Lucia Guh-Siesel CEO & Founder, Bandalou

October 29th, 2014

What a great question Daniel and widely applicable to all of us.

I recently learned something from my 15 year old son that may resonate with you. I hit a stumbling block one night, and so he asked what happened. I told him the story and how I began to question some core beliefs about what we were trying to accomplish.  He listened intently, then at the very end, he looked me straight in the eye, put his arm around my shoulders, smiled and said, "Mom.  Minor set back."  

He was right.  

Every day, with every step forward, there are bound to be stumbles and stalls.  And that's all they are -- minor setbacks.  I hope my story helps.  Good luck!  L.

Todd Whitmore Burlington County Corrections Business Manager

October 30th, 2014

As it has been said by many respondents, it becomes something that is indicated by the person's personal ways they like to deal with the various things that can take us off track.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I personally like to listen to music (preferably something jazzy and without words).

Sports have always been a form of release, but that can take you away from something that has time constraints and need one to recharge on the fly.

I think we need to better understand the level of burnout and staying hungry as it is a constant variable as well..

Our motivation is driven by our desire to achieve and if we go back to that basic premise, it should be enough to kickstart the burnout and maintain the hunger..

TW

Kyle Joseph Executive Director at Foodseum

October 31st, 2014

From someone working on a food-centric startup I have to say it's fun to hear the analogies of motivation to that of eating, eg. 'stay hungry' and 'fire in the belly'. That being said, I've found there's a lot of truth to balancing your personal eating habits and exercise to staying motivated. It doesn't take much, a short walk in the morning, having a protein shake in the morning instead of a muffin running out the door. Each thing you do for yourself will help to counteract the negative thoughts that cause burnout. Do these little things in some kind of routine and you add a whole other benefit, of establishing a little bit of consistency in the ever-changing, all over the place world of entrepreneurship.

Another completely separate help is finding consistent time to spend with other entrepreneurs. There's nothing more motivating when you're on your last bit of energy or hope then an understanding ear. Or even better when you're at the bottom of the roller coaster to see them at the top as a reminder of the good times.

Vishal Kumar

November 1st, 2014

Most of us (including me) are pushing hard everyday and trying to figure out how to be more productive and do more. 

This counter-intuitive suggestion from Peter Shallard (https://www.commitaction.com/the-fifth-pillar-that-saves-you/) explains how denying ourselves all the time could actually lead to our inner mind sabotaging what we are trying to do. 

Including "play" in our strategy as he coins it, could be as important. It means, when you set up a goal to do a certain number of tasks, you reward yourself by taking a guilt free break and doing something that is really fun for you.

This can result in us being more aligned to the "inner child who wants to play" and a happier self. I think if we are happy along our journey, burnout would be easier to avoid.

Ron White Creative Director at TAD (The Academy of Design)

October 29th, 2014

Great topic!

Meditation has always helped me.  When i'm down I sit back and reflect and remind myself of what motivated me in the beginning of this entrepreneurial journey.  It has helped me to channel that original excitement and energy to keep on pushing. 

Also at times I like to reflect on the sacrifices I've made along the way, this also motivates me to keep working when i'm down.  I never want to feel that my scarifies was made in vain.  

This is what always helped to stay hungry and keep pushing when i'm in a slump.