An Entrepreneur’s Greatest Asset Is Wellness. Here Are 5 Ways to Protect Yours

Mental fitness and well-being -- key building blocks of sustained performance -- enable you to stay optimistic and help your teams stay energized

Source | | Alexi Robichaux

If someone asked you to name the greatest assets of your business, your mind would probably first go to your technology, intellectual property or talent. Those things are certainly valuable. But without wellness, entrepreneurs cannot use those tools to their full potential. 

Especially early on, your company literally is your vision. You, and the few missionaries who believe in you, are running on faith. You must stay optimistic. Your job is to help people who believe in your mission to feel energized and keep building in the face of rejection. That’s really hard to do when you’re hurting, languishing, depressed or caught in a spiral of doubt and anxiety,  which, unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are.

According to a study from the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly half of all entrepreneurs (49 percent) struggle with mental health issues compared with 32 percent of the general population. The combination of intensity,  exposure, criticism, setbacks and ambiguity can turn destructive amid long hours, sleep deprivation and a lack of time to attend to one’s physical and emotional needs.

I experienced this reality firsthand. BetterUp was, in part, born out of my desire to build a business that didn’t glorify hustle to the point of burnout. Many others in the startup community have also bravely spoken up about their own mental health struggles

Our internal data shows that when startup leaders report suffering mentally, they are 25 percent less engaged with their work, 31 percent less able to handle stress and 27 percent less satisfied with their lives overall. These gaps are particularly significant at a fast-growing organization where you are the public face, the captain of the ship and the head cheerleader.  A lack of wellness doesn’t just feel awful, it also holds back your company. 

Wellness then isn’t a “nice to have.” Nor is it simply about trying to squeeze in a weekend yoga class. It is a key building block of sustained performance that enables entrepreneurs to make the most of all the other resources at their disposal. That makes it one of your most valuable assets, and it should be a priority. 

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