Being a business owner is stressful. You want to make all of your customers happy, with limited time and resources. Bills are due and deadlines are looming. Vendors aren’t meeting their promises, employees aren’t living up to expectations. There are countless decisions that need to be made and the consequences dealt with moment to moment. Being a successful entrepreneur means learning to deal with stress, and even growing to appreciate it.
Stress and Destressed
A few years ago, I was involved with a movie project called “Destressed”. In the film, the main character, Garry, deals with medical and psychological issues related to extreme stress. He goes through a period of self-reflection to understand that he can deal with his stress through a combination of empathy and gratefulness. He goes on a journey to find people who have been affected by tragedy and difficulty, and understand how they have come to cope. Garry realizes that being grateful for the things he has in his life makes the petty things that can cause stress and conflict seem less important.
There are a lot of lessons in the film that make it worthwhile for entrepreneurs to watch. Here are three that stood out for me.
Are The First Moments of Your Day Stressful?
Towards the end of the movie, the main character gives a talk about what he has learned. At one point, he picks up an alarm clock. When that alarm clock goes off in the morning and how you react can define your stress level for the entire day. Need to get up at 6am? If you snooze just five or ten minutes, you’re going to wake up rushed. You’ll be late for that first meeting, then for your second. Traffic becomes more stressful since you have less time to get to the office. One thing leads to another, and your stress level rises the entire time.
The lesson here is two-fold. First, your entire day can be dictated by the first few moments. How you wake up and what you do to get your day started can have a dramatic effect over the next 18 hours. Second, little things add up and can have larger effects on your mood and productivity. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand and address little things that can distract and make them less productive.
What Are You Complaining About?
Do you bitch and moan about every little thing? Complaining about stuff is just about the least productive thing you can waste your time on. If you have a problem, deal with it and work to resolve it. Going on and on about some trivial matter saps your energy and time.
In “Destressed,” Garry is upset because of damage to his boat caused by a hurricane. In his travels, he meets with a man whose home was completely destroyed and has been living with his family in a small trailer for months and months while his home is rebuilt. The man is very religious, and not only deals with the effects the experience has on his family, but with questions about how something so traumatic could happen to good people.
This encounter helps Garry put things into perspective. There are people dealing with tremendous loss. This doesn’t remove one’s own stress, but can help evaluate why certain things cause stress and if that stress is warranted.
What Are You Grateful For?
Perhaps the most important lesson of the film is to find what you are grateful for. For Garry, his family, especially the birth of his new baby girl, was key for him. He realizes that he wants to stay healthy to see her grow up. It becomes clear that getting cut off in traffic, losing a phone, and dealing with other hassles pales in comparison to the positive things in his life.
Having your own business is stressful. You’re out there without a net. The buck stops with you and you need to own it. You chose that stress, and the fact that you have it is something to be grateful for. You’re doing it! You are living a life that many people aspire to. Being grateful for that makes the stress manageable and even welcomed.