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What Entrepreneurs Don’t Talk About

Posted by | April 10, 2015 | Alieu Fofanah, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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I was once told that “to share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

However, as an entrepreneur, when going through that dark lonely road, we are not wired to show vulnerability. This leads to mental health issues from anxiety to the extremes of depression being hidden and not spoken about. Is that a problem? Are we prone to only show our strengths, drive and resilience?

I recently put myself in a bad position. I started mentally isolating myself, I effectively mismanaged my team and I was simply working too hard! I was skipping breaks, staying up long into the night and said yes to too many things. Slowly my focus, concentration and even my physical health started to wear down. I had robbed myself of the opportunity to relieve stress. The team dynamics was becoming shaky and I was becoming more irritable and less productive.

Have you gone through times like these? When you were alone with your thoughts, and doubt and fear crept over you. How did you deal with it?

I reached out to my mentor and I aired out my concerns. I had a meeting with my team to address the shaky dynamics and to refocus. Through these steps I realized that it is not always about quantity but quality. If you surround yourself with a quality network of like-minded trusted peers and mentors then you can get real support to get you through the mental storm.

Here are a few hints and tips to keep you going:

  • Find a safe place– Join a support network for entrepreneurs like GoGetters. There is value in being around your peers in an environment of mutual respect, confidentiality and trust. You can air out your problems to people who understand what you are going through. In addition, GoGetters create an effective accountability system to keep you on track and provides you with resources to reinforce your personal resilience. Join our fellowship programme click ‘here‘ to find out more.
  • Be present– Focus on taking one step at a time and concentrate on what is in your control. Imagine you are stranded in a desert with little food and water. Put all your fear and energy into actions you can take, like simply moving your legs and arms one at a time and focusing on that. Embrace the fullness of the present. This is where you are and what you have to work with, so accept it and deal with it. Working towards your vision and being future-oriented is necessary for entrepreneurship, but if future gazing is fuelling your depression by twisting your goals or they are unrealistic, then perhaps it’s time to practice being in the present. Meditating is a good way to practice this.
  • Look after yourself– Don’t make yourself less resilient by neglecting your health. Don’t get into the habit of eating too much or too little. Sleep well and exercise. These are things that fall down the priority list when we get busy. Don’t let them!
  • Seek help– If you are feeling suicidal or extremely distressed then seek professional help. There are loads of different options, such as the NHS or independent support offline and online groups, for example www.webtribes.com and www.mind.org.uk.

‘The long dark road,’ is one travelled more often than people care to discuss or share, but sharing or reading others’ experiences, even anonymously, can help you feel less isolated and remove the stigma from the topic.

If you have gone down the long dark road please share what you went through and what you have learnt. Let’s have an open dialogue and help each other to grow and overcome our challenges.

Follow me on Twitter – @alieu_fofanah and @GoGettersGlobal

Alieu Fofanah

About Alieu Fofanah

An Associate Chartered Accountant who in 2010 was invited to the House of Lords by Lord Adebowale, to feature as a Future Leader in the Magazine published by Powerful Media. Previously worked as a debt restructuring and business recovery specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Alieu’s vision for GoGetters to act as a channel for entrepreneurs to build creative solutions, which transform the world.

  • Tosin james-Odukoya

    Great read Alieu! I have always wanted to know how to manage my time better, what is the best way to avoid working long hours?

  • GoGetters

    Thanks Tosin. 3 key things to consider are:

    Planning: Outline what the next few months look like, so you have a road map. This will enable you to decide on whether you can take on more or not. Instead of saying yes to everything and realising to late that it is not achievable. In addition, set aside half an hour to plan your day each morning, it gets you into the right mindset to get it all done.

    Delegate: You don’t have to be hands on with everything! Being hands on isn’t viable for the long term. Learn to apportion less important tasks to others, or outsource where you can.

    Prioritise: Accept that you can’t answer every call or respond to every email instantly. If you need to finish a project, let the phone ring and disconnect instant messaging. Don’t fall into the trap of reacting to everything out of habit. If it doesn’t need an immediate response from you, right now, don’t do it

  • Tosin james-Odukoya

    Great, I’ll take it all on board :-)

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