Sharpening The Saw – End Of Year Reflections And Reinvigoration For The Entrepreneur

Most anyone that has been in business for more than a couple years is familiar with Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” and specifically the habit called “Sharpening the Saw”.  This basically refers to taking care of oneself on a regular basis to be able to be more effective in your relations with others and in your business.

For the entrepreneur, this is probably one of the most important and highly neglected habits.  Entrepreneurs are notorious for working themselves into exhaustion on a regular basis, blurring the lines between work and home to the point where they are working seven days a week, 10-16 hours a day.  There are times, no doubt, when this level of effort is required to get an entrepreneurial venture off the ground or to keep it going during tough times.  Much of the time though, this level of work just becomes a bad habit (not one of the “Seven Habits”) that can have negative consequences on the entrepreneur’s health and relationships.

I went in for a haircut the other day and my stylist Diana (my hair is short enough that there’s not much styling done, but it doesn’t feel right to call her a barber) was clearly in a funk.  She and her friend are starting their own salon, and after a few questions it was clear that she was feeling completely overwhelmed by the amount of work that was required to get her business up and running.  She asked me for advice, and my answer was simple:  Owning your own business is like this sometimes, but not all the time.  The work ends up worth it in the long run.  And take care of yourself.  This seemed to help, although I think that having an understanding and listening ear was as big a part as anything that I had to say.  I’ve discussed this in previous blogs about what entrepreneurs should do to cultivate mentors.

When it comes to taking time for oneself, I’m as guilty, or guiltier than most entrepreneurs.  Although I do keep a regular exercise schedule, that’s the first thing to drop off during busy times and it take a while to get back into a routine.  Travel wreaks havoc on my exercise schedule, since even though I usually stay in hotels with a gym, the jet lag, busy schedules, and change in routine, along with the work that piles up and requires catch up when I return, usually mean that I fall out of my exercise routine for 2-3 weeks.

Happily, however, I’m writing this blog from a poolside beach chair in Hawaii, where I’m spending my Christmas with my family.  This year was busier than most for me between work and personal issues and I was not able to take a vacation all year.  I decided a few months ago (when my stress level was at a peak) that I was going to schedule a vacation, however and use all those hotel and airline miles that I’ve been accumulating for some “me” time.  I didn’t realize until I got here and had a chance to relax, workout hard for a few days, and enjoy a massage how much tension I had been carrying over the last year.  The stress was probably unsustainable at those levels, and likely would have resulted in emerging health issues, relationship issues, or inefficiency at work if I had just “sucked it up” and continued at the pace I was working at.

For entrepreneurs more than most others, the need to release stress is huge.  The workload as you build and maintain your business is never ending.  Even when you have a solid management team in place, as I do, as long as you are running the show the weight of the world will always be on your shoulder’s over anyone else’s.  Take some time in 2014 to “Sharpen your Saw”, take care of yourself, get some “me” time, and whatever else you need to do in order to be at your best.  Your family, friends, and employees will all thank you for it, trust me.

Source: Forbes Business

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