Get a Life

If you’re an entrepreneur, here’s one piece of good solid advice from another entrepreneur: get a life! Really though, seriously, for realz – get a life. You are not the most important person to walk the earth. You are not a big deal. You are not the next ______. You are not defined by your title, your network, the value of your founders equity, the extent of your LinkedIn network, your facebook friends, your twitter followers, your contacts in the VC community, the fact that you know Arrington or Scoble – who gives a shit about any of that! Ya know who cares? You. And that’s it. None of it matters, man! Get a life!

What defines you is the life you lead outside of work, amongst your family, and your friends (true friends, I mean). Entrepreneurship does not define who you are. It does not define you as a member of society, as a member of your community, your family, your friends. When you die, no one will say “wow, she was a great entrepreneur.” Your gravestone will not say “fantastic entrepreneur.” If it does, that’s just sad and pathetic.

I am an entrepreneur, but first I am Ben. I’ve always tried to maintain that perspective, and I’m fortunate to have friends and family who help keep me grounded, who slap me upside the head when I need a slap. And that happens here and there, for sure. But I’m usually the first person to slap me upside the head – I usually know when I need a reality check, I’ve learned.

So who are you? No really, who are you? What defines you as a person?

During these incredibly challenging economic times, what matters is not how many hours you’re putting in at the office – it’s how smart you are at working. Sure, it’s important that we all work hard – yes, we must work harder and smarter. And just because you work a lot doesn’t mean you’re working hard! There’s a very big difference. But now, more than ever, it’s also important that we practice some balance, some harmony – start with your family, your friends, some hobbies, do some of the things we enjoy outside of work. Put even more emphasis on balance.

What are those things? Spending more time with your family? How about going to see live music? Maybe its reading, painting, writing? Or is it skiing, bicycling, hiking, basketball? As long as it’s healthy – do it, and do more of it. And start right now.

Balance

I made a mistake this weekend – I forgot about balance and paid the price. Actually, it’s not so much that I forgot about it, rather that I neglected to enforce it for myself and I know now that it’s been happening for a while. If there’s one thing that’s certain about these stressful times, with the economy and, for me, with CitySquares being at such an exciting precipice, it’s more important than ever that we all keep a healthy balance in our daily lives. Everyone is a bit more on edge these days than normal. People are inevitably going to be a little short-fused, or edgy. Myself included.

As an entrepreneur, my work tends to take over everything in my life – literally everything. When I hop out of bed in the morning, it’s game time. In fact, I don’t sleep much, because in between sleep phases I’m still gaming. When I sleep, I often dream of work. When I’m in the shower, I’m thinking about CitySquares. My iPhone is only an arm’s length away, always. Throughout the day I’m full-on. When I get home to see my wife, I’m full-on. When I eat dinner, when I watch TV or a movie, when I’m out and about, my mind is spinning about CitySquares. I may fake it well, but I’m constantly working. It takes a lot to bring me back down. Like, horse tranquilizer strength to bring me down.

Now, this is mostly expected from an entrepreneur and founder of a company – it’s actually normal in the world I live in every day. But as it pertains being a human and living out my life, it’s not normal – it’s harmful. It hurts. It hurts my relationships with others, my mental health, emotional and physical health. It’s literally caused me health problems – some I’m watching closely. In very rare circumstances it can affect others, even hurt them.

This weekend I had an eye-opening and very plainly realized that I’m on a path to self-destruction if I don’t correct this right now. I must get back to balance. I have some hobbies that I’ve neglected lately, some friends and family that I’ve neglected, some passions that I’ve ignored. Maybe I need a long weekend away on a beach somewhere. I’m not sure, but I’m going to figure it out fast.

As with everything in life, there must be moderation. And that goes for entrepreneurs too! In this fast-paced, web 2.0, always-connected, get-ahead entrepreneurial way of life it’s so easy to get lost in it all.

I believe it was Buddha who said, “everything in moderation, even moderation.”

‘Nuff said.