Monday, May 20, 2013

The Dangers of Solitude

Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful thing, but there are quite a few pitfalls that you should be careful to avoid. I came to focus on this while watching one of my favorite TV shows - Million Dollar Listing New York. A recent episode highlighted what it was like for the 3 realtors during Hurricane Sandy.

If you've never watched the show, Fredrik Eklund, Ryan Serhant and Luis Ortiz are top-selling realtors in New York City who eat, live and breathe real estate. Their lives are all about the deal, for the most-part. Fredrik is engaged so he has his fiance and 2 dogs that he shares his life with. Luis is a twin, so he shares his life with his brother. Ryan, on the other hand, has nothing outside of work. He has no friends, no relationships, no one to call on when Hurricane Sandy strikes. Eventually he reached his parents and was able to get to them and stay for a few days while NYC got back up and running.

It was sobering to watch. As entrepreneurs, life becomes all about the hustle. The mentality becomes "If I don't make it happen, nothing will happen" and while that is partially true, it's not the sum total of reality. Remember the saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?" I would change that a bit to say "All work and no play makes Jack a LONELY boy." When you spend so much time chasing the deal and/or the dream that you begin to alienate your friends and family, it doesn't bode well. Life is meant to be about balance. It's not fair to assume that everyone understands that you have to work so hard and they should just deal with it. It's equally to unfair to assume that you can have relationships that you don't pay any attention to and they're just going to be there. Relationships are like flowers, they need love and sun and water and food. If you aren't providing those things, it will die.

Your friends may not understand you journey as an entrepreneur, and that's ok. It may not make sense to them all the time and they may want you to get a "regular" job, but it's just not healthy for your mind or your soul to close yourself off from the world with only your work to keep you company. When it's a crisis or a tragedy or major natural disaster, as was the case with Hurricane Sandy, you need to have people that you can reach out to. You need to have healthy relationships that you have fostered over time. People need to know that there is more to you than just working. You need to know that for yourself.

If you're a schedule-driven person, start carving out time in your schedule to spend time with the people you care about. It doesn't have to be extensive things - maybe a meal or coffee or face-to-face chat - but it needs to be something that isn't driven solely by technology (text conversations, phone calls, Skype chats, etc.) You need to see a live person, get a hug and talk about more than work. It will help you in the long run and it will go a long way towards feeding your relationships.