Startup Wars — May the Force be with you

So, you wanna build the Deathstar, do you?

You’ve come up with a great idea — something that would disrupt the market and make heads turn — and all you want to do is build your product. Seemed simple at first, but people keep putting up barriers and trying to stop you at every turn; they’re finding holes and weak spots, and seem to delight in exploiting them.

To make matter worse. the budget for your uber-disruptive project is always fluctuating and you need to keep a tight grip on your finances and capital.

You’re trying to build a team of talented individuals, but it’s a challenge to find and motivate a troop of like-minded people who really get it — people who believe in what you are fighting for, can rally together when things get tough, and will hit, and not miss, a few key targets along the way.

You’ve got this investor that keeps looming in the background, making compelling promises that you want to say yes to. They’ve got all this experience and advice, but you’re sometimes just not sure how much you can trust them.

Meanwhile, your kids are growing up — you’re missing some of their greatest moments. Your friends don’t seem to understand the power of what you’re trying to do, and your relationships suffer as a result of your dedication and passion for achieving ultimate success.

And on top of it all, you’re probably not making the Imperial Credits you could be.

Sometimes it feels like the entire galaxy is against you.

So what do you do? That’s a lot of pressure to confront and your mental health is important. Sometimes you just want to some alone time, a moment away from the project and team that needs your attention; sometimes you just want to fly away to Cloud City and take a break. But you don’t have time for that.

How do you keep yourself from slipping completely into the Dark Side? I mean, ultimate power is great and all, but you don’t want it to force you to a point that you’re completely stressed out and unable to do your job effectively.

As an over 15 year veteran of entrepreneurship, I can attest to all of these things to a certain extent. Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years to try to keep me in good health and focused.

  1. As long as your respiratory system wasn’t burned by lava and your smell receptors still work with or without a mask or helmet, stop and smell the Flandorian flowers once in a while. Take a breath or two. Take a moment.
  2. Stand up once in a while, especially if you’ve been sitting down or lying on a reconstruction table for a long period of time.
  3. Go for a walk (or exercise). Connect with a friend, someone that you work with, or even a business partner. Get out and enjoy. Leave your phone(s) at the office.
  4. Make sure you’ve got a mentor you can trust, that will give you their council once in a while, listen and provide feedback or help however they can. I’ve been lucky throughout my career to have amazing mentors to help me through good, bad and hard times. As an aside, don’t wait until the hard times to contact your mentors. Keep them close even in the best of times, because celebrating your wins with someone close to you, who knows you and what you’ve been working on, is important.
  5. Listen to good advice, especially from the masters who have more experience and are giving of their time and knowledge. BE an active listener. BE grateful. Take heed of the fact that someone is taking that time, it is more special than you think. You are more special than you think.
  6. Remember to give hugs. Preferably real (good) hugs to your loved ones. Especially if you have a life-partner and/or kids. These moments are critical, and honestly, can make stress all but disappear at times. Some of my favorite moments are coming home to my kids and hearing my second oldest, Noah, stop whatever he’s doing and say “I missed you, daddy, I want to give you a hug”. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, I cherish it.

Much of building a successful empire is about persistence. But without proper mental health, you will have trouble persisting and trying to stay focused. So even if you can incorporate one of the above tips into your life, hopefully, it’ll help.

Do you have any tips to maintain your mental health? Please share them!