New studies are now beginning to shed light on the psychological toll of entrepreneurship. Research shows nearly three-quarters of business owners have concerns about their mental health. Almost half have struggled with depression or anxiety before.
Society tends to glorify success and achievement. We shy away from talking about mental health due to the fear and stigma attached to it. Thankfully, that’s changing. More top business leaders are coming forward about their battles with bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and OCD. The culture of silence around mental illness in the business community is beginning to shatter and with it the shame of seeking help.
This is, actually, good news. It means that rather than thinking that the path to being a successful entrepreneur is simple, and just by following the habits of successful people we can emulate them, we can have a realistic discussion about what it means to run your own company in terms of work-life balance, stress, and mental health. Working as many hours at as high a stress level as it takes to start a company from the ground up isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. Personally, I know I have zero desire to do it, even though I work in the tech sector, run websites, and all of the typical geeky things that you’d equate with someone wanting to work for a startup.
I’m simply not willing to pay the price for that, knowing full well that for every Jobs and Zuckerberg, there are hundreds of people we’ve never heard of who never got rich. That’s the stress, that’s the anxiety, and we shouldn’t pretend that isn’t a very real thing for anyone in that position, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that sometimes life can bring with it more stress and anxiety than we can deal with on our own.
There’s no shame in that.