There’s one failure all entrepreneurs must avoid at all costs.
It’s a major mistake many entrepreneurs make.
They say failure is never fatal although this one very well could be.
It strips entrepreneurs of their happiness and freedom they’ve worked hard for.
No amount of success can overcome this failure.
The Ultimate Failure Is Success Without Health
Have you ever been laid out either by an injury, the flu, surgery, anything that had you feeling miserable and counting down the days until you were feeling better again?
A few years ago I strained my upper back and neck muscles.
Not sure what could have done it – could have been the hours upon hours in front of my computer, bad posture, not stretching regularly, and little sleep.
I’m no genius but I’m pretty sure all of these factors may have had something to do with my back and neck strain.
It was the worst 3 weeks ever.
If you’ve ever strained or pulled a back muscle, you can relate.
It’s the absolute worst.
Every movement is painful.
This was during a time when I was still physically training my clients versus the wellness coaching work I do today so it was physically demanding, especially since I was seeing 6-8 clients per day.
Business was booming, revenue was awesome and constant, and I couldn’t have been more miserable and depressed because of the pain I was in.
I remember going to a nice dinner that weekend and wanting nothing more than to get home and lay down even though laying down was still uncomfortable but it was the least painful position for me to be in.
I had neglected my overall health for too long and my body finally gave me the middle finger and said “no more“.
I say overall health because I was still running 4-5 days per week.
I was still eating fairly clean minus my weekend adult beverages and bar food with friends.
I was healthy yet injured.
I was successful yet miserable.
I had the freedom of self-employment yet a hostage to pain.
The happiness of doing work I loved was overshadowed by wanting to do nothing because of the pain my back and neck strain was causing me.
You wanna know what I was most pissed off at though?
It was my own doing.
Make Heath Your First Order Of Business
As entrepreneur’s, we work like mad to build our businesses.
We put in crazy hours, do tons of work, give non-stop effort, and make a stupid amount of sacrifices all for the sake of seeing our businesses flourish.
I can understand this behavior considering it’s behavior I engage in myself.
There is one sacrifice though, a stupid sacrifice, that all entrepreneurs must refuse to make.
A sacrifice that if we continue to make as entrepreneurs, will lead to our greatest failure, regardless of our success.
No amount of success can negate pain we feel from injury.
No amount of money we make as entrepreneurs matters if we’re battling an illness.
If we don’t make health our first matter of business each and every day, we risk losing the two most important gifts we’ve worked so hard to create for ourselves as entrepreneurs….
Happiness & Freedom
Happiness doing work we love.
Freedom of self-employment.
You can argue that if you’re injured, sick, in pain, or battling illness you can still be doing work you love along with the freedom of self-employment, and you’re absolutely right.
I can tell you first hand though, being injured, in pain, sick, or ill isn’t fun, it isn’t happiness.
Doing work you love when you’re unhealthy, in pain, and not feeling your best is horrible.
The freedom of self-employment means nothing if you’re not in a healthy position to enjoy it.
Heck I rather be in a crappy corporate sales job where I’m healthy, pain-free, with no illness versus self-employed, doing work I love, but unhealthy, miserable, sick, and ill.
One of the stories I use to tell myself was, “I’m not too uncomfortable or in too much pain so I’m good.“
Genius (read silly) thinking on my part.
It’s like saying there’s a small leak in the boat but it’s not that big plus the boat isn’t sinking.
The boat may not be sinking (yet) but that small hole, if not tended too, will sink the boat, it’s just a matter of time.
We may get away with abusing our bodies and it may take it for a while but just like the small hole in the boat, it’s just a matter of time before our small unhealthy habits wreak havoc on us.
And when that happens, the damage has been done and we pay the price.
Some prices are easier to pay than others.
As miserable as I was for those three weeks with back pain, I feel it was a small price, a very painful price, but a small price I paid for not making my overall health a priority and my first matter of business.
I was lucky.
Depression, anxiety attacks, diabetes, obesity, and worst, strokes and heart attacks, entrepreneur’s who pay these prices aren’t so lucky.
Of course the thought process is always, “well that won’t happen to me“.
Those use to me my exact words.
I was running 4 times per week, eating healthy, and in pretty good shape.
It’s easy to see though how I convinced myself that I was fine and had nothing to worry about.
“I’ll be fine” I thought.
Man was I wrong.
My posture while sitting at my desk were I spent countless hours working was terrible.
I wasn’t stretching, I was barely drinking any water, and sleeping very little.
Entrepreneurship is Serious Business
Whether you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship or have been at it for years, the principles of health never change.
I know, never say never, but when it comes to our overall health, never is very appropriate.
The importance of health in entrepreneurship never changes regardless of your success level.
It’s always important, it’s always a must, and it’ll always be the X factor between success and failure.
It’s more than just entrepreneurial success too… it’s your health, your well being, your quality of life.
It’s your happiness, your freedom, and your right to do work you love.
All of this and so much more is at stake when we knowingly neglect our health.
It’s the greatest risk posed to every entrepreneur that gets in the game.
The risk at failing ourselves and our health.
There are many things that are out of our control as entrepreneurs, this isn’t one of them.
Our health and overall well being is 100% in our control.
We decide when we exercise.
We decide what we eat.
We decide when we stretch.
We decide how much water we’ll drink.
We decide when to sleep.
Our health is 100% on us, and if we fail at that, there’s no one to blame but ourselves.
Harsh perhaps but it’s the truth.
How To Preserve Your Entrepreneurial Happiness & Freedom
Preserving two of the greatest gifts we work for as entrepreneurs, freedom and the ability to do work you love, starts by preserving our health.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and complicated either.
More often than not, that’s what keeps us from taking action to begin with.
Either we think it’ll take more effort than it actually does or we’re just unsure of what to do.
I’m here to tell you that it’s small daily health habits that make all the difference.
It’s not the one hour of spin class once a week, the 2 hour gym workout, or the new vegan diet you’ve decided to follow.
It’s the 15 minute workout you complete first thing in the morning at home.
It’s that piece of fruit you snack on daily or the salad you have at lunch.
It’s the bottle of water you drink at the beginning of every day.
It’s the 5 minutes of stretching you complete before going to bed.
Small daily health habits, that’s what it’s all about.
That’s what make the difference between preserving our entrepreneurial benefits or suffering the ultimate entrepreneurial failure – success without the health to enjoy it.
Here’s an easy framework you can begin using daily that will guide and help you to preserve your health and entrepreneurial benefits.
Daily Entrepreneur Framework For Health
Eat more natural foods (fruits, veggies, lean meats) vs. processed foods (packaged & canned).
Eat smaller portions 3-5 times per day (don’t eat lots at once and stuff yourself)
Eat every 3-4 hours (don’t skip breakfast or lunch, two big no-no’s)
Here’s a shopping list of foods to shop for and keep at home or at work that’ll keep you healthy and feeling good.
30 minutes per day of aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, etc). The earlier in the day you get this done the better.
3 times per week of weight training workouts (weights, resistance bands, gym, or body weight exercises). An example schedule is either Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thu/Sat.
Here’s a body weight only exercise routine you can do anywhere (click each exercise for a video demonstration).
1) Squats – 2 sets of 20 reps
2) Alternating Lunges – 2 sets of 20 reps
3) Push Ups – 2 sets of 15 reps
4) Abdominal Crunches – 2 sets of 25 reps
(Go through the 4 exercises doing one set of each and then go back through all four again and do the second set)
Multivitamins (a must, take daily first thing in the morning).
Drink 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning (preferably during exercise or right after).
Consider using a water canister (this is a good one) that holds 16 ounces of water to track your water intake.
Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night (no less than 4 hours, no more than 8 hours).
If you have trouble shutting down and going to sleep at night, discontinue the use of all electronics 30 minutes before bed (yes, that includes your mobile phone too).
In addition, consider taking a 5-10 minute hot shower followed by the stretch routine coming up next.
Stretch daily (right after aerobic exercise, weight training workouts, or right before bed).
Hold each stretch for 60 seconds for maximal benefit.
Use the 4 stretches below (click each stretch for an image demonstration).
Stretch #1 (left foot over right)
Stretch #3 (right foot over left)
(Do each stretch once)
Or if you prefer, here’s a 5 minute stretch video you can follow as well.
Check yourself every hour to make sure you’re calm, relaxed, and breathing normally versus short shallow breaths that increase stress, tension, and anxiety.
Inhale for 5 seconds.
Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
Exhale slowly for 5 seconds.
Use this breathing technique three times per day for 5 minutes.
This technique is especially helpful during times of stress and anxiety.
Don’t make the mistake I made that led me to 3 weeks of back pain misery.
Check yourself and your posture when you’re at your desk and working throughout the day.
Here’s a look at proper and healthy desk posture (looking straight with back straight)
Here’s a look at terrible and unhealthy desk posture (back is hunched).
Here’s another look at an unhealthy desk posture (looking down at the computer screen instead of straight).
Assess As You Go
No one knows you better than you know yourself.
If walking works for you, keep the walking.
If gym workouts are your thing and you don’t like home workouts, go to the gym instead.
If you often forget to take your vitamins, drink your water, or stretch, set a reminder for yourself or ask your spouse, friend, business partner, whoever it may be, to remind you.
Go with what feels best.
What matters is that you’re doing something versus nothing.
I know these sound like such simple habits and may even have you thinking, “will this seriously make a difference in my overall health?“
The answer is an overwhelming yes!
When it comes to our health, success, and the freedom to do work we love as entrepreneurs, there’s little difference between the formula for success and formula for failure.
Formula For Success = a few simple health disciplines practiced every day.
Formula For Failure = a few errors in judgement repeated everyday.
Errors I unfortunately know about all too well, errors we usually look at and think nothing of, errors we believe have nothing to do with our entrepreneurial success, freedom, and doing work we love.
Let’s not be so foolish as to think our health has nothing to do with our continued success.
It has everything to do with it.
I encourage you to stop ignoring your number one asset, your primary order of business.
The most important thing in your business and for your business – your health.
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