Entrepreneurs Don’t Need Work-Life Balance

Jeffrey Stibel of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. zeroes in on common characteristics of entrepreneurs.  He wrote in the Harvard Business Review that entrepreneurs like him are always focused on their dream or vision 24/7.  This blinding passion to achieve their dream has brought imbalance in their lives.  He said most of them skip meals and socializing as these divert their attention and time in realizing their vision.  He cites Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who found formal education a distraction to their respective visions.  Both dropped out of school to pursue their dreams.  Stibel advises entrepreneurs to prioritize what is most important to them and to drop activities that waste time.

I was always encouraged from an early age to be balanced in everything that I do. Sure, achieving a perfect work-life balance should be a top priority for most professionals, but the same advice just doesn’t apply to entrepreneurs — we’re a different lot.

As entrepreneurs, we have zero sense of balance. We’re all in, all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, weekday or weekend — each of us focuses on our vision with a single-minded passion. Many of us skip meals, showers, and social gatherings, meaning we avoid anything that diverts our attention from turning our visions and passions into reality.

If you’ve ever seen Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Fort Myers, Florida, you may have noticed the little cot he kept next to his desk. Edison worked long hours, took small catnaps, and then went right back to work.

Edison, of course, isn’t alone in his persistence. We’ve all heard the stories about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg during the early days of their respective companies. And it’s no coincidence that both Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to pursue their passions. Clearly, the more “balanced” decision for both of them would have been to stay in school and to pursue their projects after graduation. But that’s not the entrepreneur’s way.

I’m not saying entrepreneurs should give up the other important aspects of their lives. If family, friends, and hobbies are important to you, then by all means you should pursue those things. But the key is to make the most important things a priority and to get rid of the rest. Sure, there are only 24 hours in a day, but think about the hours you’ve wasted on social networking, television, unimportant meetings, and other trivial pursuits. As entrepreneurs, we often give up those things, but since we spend less time on the things that don’t interest us, we can devote more time to the things that we’re truly passionate about. If used efficiently, 24 can be an awful lot of hours. …

Photo by Mr Ranjkar

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