“I can’t take a break as my product solution might save lives. My break might actually cost lives!”, a social entrepreneur shared about his behavior leading to a burnout experience.
You might not be in this extreme situation, but do you agree that taking a break feels hard? Do you struggle to say NO with ease, set healthy boundaries or ask for support?
Do you also have this inner voice saying “I don’t have time for a break.” or “I need to get things done.”?
But does your energy, focus, and joy decrease more-and-more over the course of a day, leaving you restless and with a low battery at the end of the week?
Let’s pause here, and look deeper into the mindset and behavior of us passionate social entrepreneurs. Note that even if you are not a social entrepreneur per definition, don’t miss out on this read to improve your wellbeing!
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A recent study run by Dr. Peter Vandor and his team from the Vienna University of Economics and Business showed that about 4 out of 10 alumni of the international Social Impact Award community have experienced burnout symptoms.*
You might feel familiar with them, as so many of us founders, entrepreneurs, and managers feel highly stressed, sleep-deprived, suffering migraines, early stages of eating disorders like binge-eating, or other physical symptoms such as lower back pain due to worries and fears.
Moreover, the study found that 5% of the interviewed social entrepreneurs burned out. #gameover
As a social entrepreneur for 9+ years myself, having founded 2 ventures and overcome one burnout during my first, I have a personal opinion on what we would need.
As a Habit Coach and Mental Fitness Expert working with highly driven but overwhelmed entrepreneurs, managers, and teams all over the globe today, I have an expert opinion I invite you to learn from.
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Get to know these 5 starter-steps to reduce your burnout-risks.
> Face your life reality. <
When speaking about social entrepreneurs and burnout, we need to explore our life realities, in our respective country, culture, and inner circle of friends and family.
A solution for personal wellbeing can only be created by us entrepreneurs in our very personal context.
We need to make sure our conditions based on our values are met, as only then we are enabled to live up to a daily practice of wellbeing without a culture clash.
Hence, get curious and take your time getting to know your life reality, as it sets the baseline and understanding to improve your wellbeing.
> Speak a new language & use role models. <
When speaking about burnout, well-being or even ill-being, all of us need to find a more inviting language. A language which is still facing reality, but is less shameful!
As burnout remains a stigma in our modern society, we need to find a new way of self-care instead of not voicing ourselves as we fear to lose credibility towards investors, clients, friends and family.
We need to invite each other into a conversation with more lightness and even humor, having local role models at hand, using the language of the local audience in need.
Instead of burnout and calling it a challenge, how about seeing it as an opportunity and aiming for Mental Fitness?
As Positive Intelligence studies shockingly show, only 1 out of 5 people in a team or a family is using its mental potential. This lacking mental fitness also proves a dramatic gap in our very basic entrepreneurial skills!
This gap needs to be closed to face challenges and its negative emotions rather as an opportunity with a clear-headed mind and positivity. Hence, I wish that entrepreneurs like you invest into their health and performance by building their mental fitness.
And before I forget, let’s no over-use the term Mental Health, as it is loaded with shame and denial with too many of us.
> Dare to go to the roots. <
I need all of us to take a step back, and I invite you to go to the root of your behavior.
At the root of your being are your positive and negative emotions, causing your thoughts and reactive behavior.
Hence, the only way to turn a burnout experience into a wellbeing experience, the only way to avoid ill-being and shift it into well-being from the start is to grow your positive mental muscles with the help of Mental Fitness.
By literally training 3 brain muscles, and shifting your habits and routines from bad and hindering ones to good and supportive ones, you can go to the roots of your challenges.
Doing so, you can discover your mental self-sabotage and your so-called Mental Saboteurs that cause your negative thinking. They turn you e.g. into status driven hyper-achievers, micro-managing controllers, endlessly arguing hyper-rationals struggling to emotionally bond with your team or family, or even pleasers always putting others first and failing to set limits by simply saying NO.
If you don’t start at the root cause, any activity – like a leadership training or communication workshop – will fizzle away after some weeks only, as basic skills to grow and maintain a fit mind and good habits are missing, and endless to-do-lists, distracting excuses, and your daily hustle take over again.
> Start a lifelong training. <
We need to come to peace with and get excited about the fact that a shift in your thinking and behavior is a lifelong training!
Hence, instead of a regular gym-membership where gyms aim at having tons of sign-ups but don’t care about the show-up-rate and intended physical fitness, I need you to commit to sign and show up for your lifelong mental fitness training day-by-day.
Why? Mental muscles need to be built over 6 to 8 weeks and consistently trained thereafter, as atrophy otherwise cuts your effort. For example, as a former climber I had to show up 4 times per week to keep my level. But as an entrepreneurial mind, I need you to show up every day to keep up your mental fitness.
After all, it is an investment into yourself. Only by putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, you can grow, lead, and inspire others!
> Become investment ready! <
As a social founder, I have learned about the investment mindset in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
As social entrepreneurs seek for social or environmental solutions, the founder’s and teams’ personalities and potential strongly matter to become investment ready. Still, financial figures and impact KPIs are run to justify the investor’s decision.
As this bears true investment risks, I invite investors to discover a founder’s Mental Saboteurs and all the negative thoughts caused by fear, doubt or anger.
I urge investors to learn about the team’s capacity to handle peak-performing times like tremendous stress. Stress which so many of us face due to a health and economic crisis or the first product launch run by a struggling team.
I need us to become curious and excited here, rather than pushy or even shaming, as these are entrepreneurial skills only very few people train and master for the sake of their performance, relationships, and wellbeing!
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Anyone sharing my dedication to improve the wellbeing of entrepreneurial leaders and teams, reach out to me! Anyone struggling at the time being, I am here for you!
Email me to hi[at]evagruber[dot]org.
*The study was initiated by Social Impact Award, Europe’s biggest community of social entrepreneurs under 30, and funded by HIL Foundation.
PS Do you want more answers on why our mind tricks us to build better habits? Stops us to live an easier, healthier, happier, and more successful life? Then click here. Read my first ebook “Creating Impact” and get inspired! It’s 1.2 € only. All proceeds go to Book Aid International, a charity to enable books for migrants, prisoners, and many more as books change lives. Thank you!