A few weeks ago I went camping. When I came back I promptly came down with the flu. This kicked off two of the toughest weeks I’ve ever experienced as an entrepreneur.
I’ll start by getting the boring crap out of the way, namely what happened from a physical standpoint. I was initially down for the count for two days with a raging fever, cough, aches and pains, etc. I took two days off work and got back at it, hoarse but functional.
But then rather than a smooth road to recovery I came down with a set of additional ailments. I just couldn’t seem to get better. But it wasn’t the coughing, the congestion, or the fact that I sounded like a combination of Barry White and Tom Waits that was tough. Nor was it waking up at 2:00 am so drenched in sweat that I had to change the sheets.
It was the total absence of all the things that make me function as an entrepreneur: my drive, my ambition, my passion, my enthusiasm. I had no energy. Everything felt overwhelming.
I had lost my mojo.
But then I got it back. Maybe you’ve had a time when you lost your energy and enthusiasm too. Maybe you’re in that situation right now. Here’s what helped me.
The legal kind, although if you were in my shoes, I wouldn’t judge you for whatever you tried. But in my case, I went the responsible route: a round of antibiotics and a prescription for an inhaler.
The lesson here is pretty obvious: you won’t have mental energy if you don’t have physical energy, and that means you need to get well, get rested, exercise, or do whatever it is that’s going to make you physically feel better.
(This isn’t always possible, of course, depending on the severity of one’s ailment. I’ve been fortunate that that’s never been my situation.)
I’m always the last person to go to the doctor. I grew up in a house where the default response to any ailment was, “Give it a few days and see what happens.” Add to that the constant hustle of owning a business and it’s easy to make excuses not to seek medical attention. But don’t wait too long!
People With Mojo To Spare
I was supposed to meet up with some friends a couple of days after I got sick but I had to cancel and move it to the following week. Then I cancelled again because I still wasn’t well. When we finally got together I was just starting to turn a corner but I felt like I was in limbo.
Two weeks of feeling drained and unambitious had left me feeling unsure of myself and uncertain about what I was doing in my business.
Meeting up with these two guys was the kick in the ass I needed. One of them is one of the savviest, most experienced entrepreneurs I know. The other is an accomplished lawyer and litigator who just started up his own independent legal practice, a ballsy move if there ever was one.
We were chatting and my lawyer friend mentioned that he’s never lost a jury trial. “How have you managed that?” I asked him.
“Jury trials are about preparation,” he replied. “Whoever does the most preparation wins. And nobody prepares more than I do. If you’re going head-to-head with me you need to outwork me, except I work harder than anyone.”
“Positive energy rubs off and can become magnetically contagious.”
Hearing this put a bit of wind in my sails. When I wrote the next day to say thanks for that, he wrote back and remarked, “positive energy rubs off and can become magnetically contagious”. He’s right. So if you’re feeling down or drained, go hang out with someone who is unstoppable.
Conferences & Meetups
On August 14 I went to the TechTO meetup and afterparty. This was my first TechTO meetup and I was incredibly impressed at the quality of the meetup, which was really more like a conference (with 700 attendees!), and the energy and enthusiasm of the people there.
It was inspiring to hear people say, “We’re on a mission to do X” and really mean it.
It was inspiring when one of the organizers asked everyone in the room to put up their hand if they weren’t born in Canada and half the people there put a hand up — what a diverse crowd!
It was inspiring to be around people with such passion and enthusiasm for technology, and it was really great how down-to-earth and approachable everyone was.
Being an entrepreneur is a famously lonely job. In the tech industry this is doubly true because if you take your eye off the ball for five minutes, the entire industry has moved on without you. However, you’re not alone. It’s worth spending some time to hang out with like-minded people who know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes.
Embrace The Grind
We all know that even when you’re feeling at the top of your game, being a business owner is tough. You can choose to embrace that facet of entrepreneurship and use it to get you up instead of wear you down.
I know he often starts early because he’ll post something up on Twitter at an insanely early hour, like this post on a Monday morning. It’s a meme that says “Rise and Grind” and he posted it at 4:00 am.
What’s the big deal, right? A silly meme, maybe a bit of a boast. Except this resonates with me. It is a grind. Getting up early and grinding through the fatigue and unpleasantness is necessary. Being an entrepreneur is mostly guts and very little glory.
Remembering that, remembering why you’re doing it, and remembering that there’s lots of other people who are putting in sweat equity is important.
Novelty Is The Spice Of Life
On the other hand, although you’ve got to deal with the grind, there’s nothing that says you can’t switch things up. If you’re not feeling into it, maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe you need to find something new to do.
In my case, I’ve decided to try some new ways to connect with other like-minded people. Like writing, for example. I’m hopeful that by being honest about what I’m all about, someone like you, who made it all the way to the bottom of this post, decides that maybe we could do business together.
I don’t write enough, but it’s something that I love — so I’m going to try and do it more often. It’s another way to ensure that even though I found my mojo, I manage to hold onto it.