Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Your Health - an asset no business owner should take for granted

Without your health, profits won't mean much

small business owner stress
Invest in looking after your well-being
At the end of the day, no matter how successful your business might be - if you don't have your health and an accompanying sense of inner well-being, then making money won't mean much.

You won't enjoy having built a profitable business unless you are healthy - and that doesn't mean only your physical health. Mental illness has afflicted many a business owner. It is not uncommon for small business owners to struggle with separating themselves from their business - typically working long hours.

Mental illness afflicts too many small business owners

That's not to say that long hours of itself is necessarily a problem .... Hey, when you love what you're doing, it's easy to become immersed and absorbed in your work. But when these long work hours are accompanied by a sense of isolation, an uncertainty about cash flow and anxiety about the pipeline for future business - then there's fertile ground for stress-related problems.

Associate Professor Angela Martin, from the School of Business at Tasmania University, in an interview with the ABC confirms that from the research she has conducted, that mental illness is indeed an issue that can confront small business owners.

She says that although there is increased awareness within larger organisations of the importance of promoting mental health and well-being, with many such programs and initiatives being implemented in these larger workplaces - often small business is overlooked and small business owners fail to get the support they need.

Some of the things that Martin's research found contribute to stress in small business owners include for example
- financial worries associated with unpredictable cash flow
- multiple responsibilities in the workplace, including responsibility for others work
- the need to continue to work, even if you aren't well
- blurring of boundaries between home and work
- business failure carries the risk of accompanying depression, and sometimes suicide

In line with Martin's research was when we saw an alarmingly high incidence of suicide in farmers along the east-coast of Australia during the periods of drought a few years ago (rural small business owners). It was tragic that such people, who must have been struggling with inner demons of helplessness, despair and isolation saw suicide as their only way out.

Developing inner well-being and resilience

Life is more than just surviving
Health and well-being now-days are viewed as much more than simply the absence of illness. In other words, just because you aren't sick, that doesn't necessarily equate with you radiating health, energy and vitality. This is similar to what positive psychology has been asserting - that the absence of depression doesn't mean that you are happy.

Many small business owners would benefit from learning to become more self-aware and being able to recognise when their stress levels are becoming excessive. Ask yourself whether you are investing enough time in caring for your own well-being. There's no point sacrificing your health in the pursuit of your goals, is there? ...... You want to be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour, don't you?

Dr. Martin Seligman is a respected thought leader within the field of positive psychology. Indeed he is sometimes referred to as its "founding father". He is a leading psychologist who for more than a decade has been applying science to the identification of the critical factors that underpin leading a happy and fulfilled life. 

In his most recent book, titled Flourish, Seligman refers to five foundations that serve to strengthen well-being within people's lives. He describes them as what can make the difference between thriving in life and not merely surviving -
  1. Positive feelings - living a life that provides opportunity to experience enjoyment and pleasure - whether this be through your hobbies, or walking along the beach at sunset, or playing with your dog. It comes from learning to focus more on what you have and to be appreciative of this, instead of focusing on what you don't have. Engaging in acts of kindness, as simple as helping a sick friend, can make you feel good about yourself
  2. Engagement - feeling immersed and absorbed in what you are doing. Having a sense that your skills and strengths are being constructively applied in meeting new and interesting challenges
  3. Relationships - feeling close and connected with family and friends that you feel provide you with the care, support and encouragement that you need. Knowing that you have people you can turn to, people who you trust and in whom you can confide your concerns and discuss your worries
  4. Meaning - feeling a deeper sense of purpose to your life and feeling that what you are doing is somehow contributing to a higher good.
  5. Achievement - the sense of accomplishment that comes with making progress, accomplishing your goals and learning new things
In addition to these 5 key ingredients, your resilience and mental toughness as a business owner will be further strengthened by ensuring that you -
  • take regular breaks during the day - making sure you stay hydrated, take time for lunch and to re-charge
  • develop a lifestyle that provides you with opportunities for adequate exercise, recreation, sleep and nutrition.
  • refresh yourself by taking annual holidays and completely switching off from work
  • learn to set proper boundaries with demanding people and manage unreasonable customer expectations
  • apply time management routines - so you plan ahead, prioritise and stay organised,  avoiding last-minute panic and drama and ensuring you've scheduled enough time for the things that are most important to you
So in summary, I would encourage you to reflect upon whether you've been taking your health for granted. Try not to lose sight of why you started the business in the first place - it was probably a means to an end, and not an end in itself. .......Remember to take time and look after your own well-being as an asset to nurture and protect, so that you can enjoy and savor the best that life has to offer!


This short animated video offers a nice simple explanation of the nature of Resilience .....

Brian Carroll 
About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a corporate training business in Melbourne, Australia.  

He is an experienced management coach and a qualified psychologist,  with a passion for helping people develop their capabilities and achieve their goals in life and business.
You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile