When we heard that entrepreneurs are the loneliest group of people, it really struck a chord with us.
Even though my business partner, Karen Halseth, and I know that we are blessed by our friendship and professional relationship, we still recognize the trap that so many entrepreneurs fall into.
Perhaps, without the seeming security of structured employment (a J.O.B.), an entrepreneur feels unable to say ‘no’ to what ever is offered or perhaps feels driven to work around the clock?
I know that this was our reality in the early days.
Work was the priority and intimate relationships and friendships suffered as a result; harder to spot were the health risks of loneliness. Dr. Sanjay Gupta says, “Loneliness is an invisible epidemic that affects 60 million Americans. Everyone feels lonely at times in their lives, but chronic loneliness poses a serious health risk.”
These health risks include: increased stress and aging, the risk of early death increases by 45%, and the onset of depression.
Another reason for choosing to isolate oneself may come from feelings of shame or vulnerability.
You might think you should be able to figure out how to make your business successful on your own. This may be a holdover from corporate life where male values of autonomy are used in goal setting.
Another masculine value of competition versus collaboration may also be getting in your way.
There are numerous benefits of collaborative learning such as increased retention, the development of social interaction and higher self esteem, but let’s talk about collaborative creativity.
It’s a well-known fact that by optimizing the value of a cohesive team we can accomplish breakthrough performance. In fact studies show that the mere presence of other people stimulates creativity and performance!
Just bringing introverts and extroverts together, or different age groups, left and right brains, and both sexes, can stimulate the expansion of an idea or outcome.
So why do we resist?
Well-known author, Carolyn Myss, said, “We evolve at the rate of the tribe we are plugged into.” Put another way, “Whom you hang out with now has a lot to do with where you’ll wind up later.”
Here are some suggestions you can do to overcome entrepreneurial loneliness:
Find your tribe: It can take a while to find your tribe but it’s well worth the effort. You’re looking for a group of people who are interested in what you are interested in, and an environment where you feel seen and valued for being yourself, that encourages conversation and connection.
Be courageous and curious as you visit different groups in your area and be willing to tell the truth. The body doesn’t lie! If you feel dread in entering the space or find yourself judging everyone, trust yourself – this is not your tribe!
Seek out mentors: It’s also tricky to find a mentor if you are an entrepreneur. Essential in a mentor is the ability to see you as an individual and not to try and ‘cookie cutter’ you into their model. Take time to get to know the person you are considering.
Ask questions to determine who they are, how they do things, and if possible, watch them in action. The biggest factor for us is, “How do I feel before a session with my mentor, during and afterwards?” At the end of your session, you should be feeling strengthened not depleted.
Reconnect with your friends: It’s not about the quantity of your relationships, but the quality. The antidote to loneliness is the level of authentic sharing. Most of us only have a small handful of close friends.
Research shows that it is the deeper level of talking and connection that positively affects well-being. Reach out! Yes, it’s one more thing to do to make the effort to connect with your friends but if you feel heard you feel better and your work is enhanced.
Make new friends: If you have lost touch with past friends or have moved away from one another, there are places where it’s easier to connect with others. People bond more easily as students, for example, so join a writing class, a personal or professional growth course. See who is drawn to you and whom you are drawn to. Notice how you feel around their energy. Take your time. Allow relationships to grow organically.
Be a part of something bigger than yourself: Explore one of your favorite causes by asking how could you get more involved. It’s interesting how we get by giving!
Who knows who you will meet as you invest a percentage of your time in giving back to others.
Don’t hide out! It may be a stretch to break old habits but as we all know, if you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. And, as we’ve often said, “This is not a going it alone lifetime!”
If you resonate with the information shared above, you are ripe for change. Pick one or more of the six suggestions and take the plunge!
If you feel like sharing your ideas for overcoming entrepreneurial loneliness, we’d love to hear from you!
About the Author, Aimée Lyndon-Adams
Aimée Lyndon-Adams is both a seasoned corporate executive and a metaphysician practicing spiritual energy healing. She has provided coaching and healing sessions to individuals, couples and groups and has offered an energy management curriculum of training classes for many years. She is an articulate and charismatic speaker and facilitator.
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