Life as an entrepreneur will put every aspect of your personality under the microscope. Your strengths will be magnified, however, so will your weaknesses. Knowing who you are and what to do about that will make a world of difference in the way you conduct yourself as an entrepreneur.
I have personally wrestled with stress and anxiety throughout my life, but becoming a business owner really pushed me to understand myself on a much deeper level. If you have a tendency to worry about things in general, you know that it can show often in your work. The great news is, there is a lot you can do about it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tai Lopez, a very successful entrepreneur, investor, and mentor, who started his first business at age 19. He believes the reason so few people go after their dream of owning a business is anxiety and fear. I would have to agree!
Below, he shared six of his best tips with me for managing stress and anxiety as an entrepreneur:
1. To manage your fear, you have to make sure you’re afraid of the right thing
“Only fear living a substandard life. Fear is natural. One of my mentors, the evolutionary psychologist David Buss, told me ‘Tai, fear is functional,’ meaning it’s evolved because it helps us when used correctly. So, I would never advise an entrepreneur to think they can remove all fear. It’s hard-wired into our DNA. What you can do is redirect your fear to those proper focal points. Your main fear in life should be living a substandard life. Obsess about that. Don’t be afraid of a few bumps in the road if you quit your job and start a business. Those bumps are inevitable and in fact, those bumps will come at your job or as an entrepreneur. They’re part of the human condition. When I become anxious, I override my conventional anxiety with my entrepreneurial anxiety. Entrepreneurial anxiety is only focused on how much worse it would be if I wasn’t an entrepreneur.”
2. Take the Hexaco quiz online
“Let me explain. Scientists, who are called specialists in psychometrics, have developed quizzes that are pretty accurate. Probably the most accurate right now is something called Hexaco, which is a 25 sub-facet study of your personality type. Pay very close attention to your score around the second facet, E, which stands for emotionality. Emotionality is comprised of four sub-facets: fearfulness, anxiety, dependence, and sentimentality. Focus on anxiety. Now, they differentiate anxiety from fearfulness. Fearfulness is fear of physical pain, like bungee jumping. If you score high on fearfulness, don’t worry, not much needs to be adjusted, necessarily. But if your anxiety is too high, you know you are kind of in the danger zone. It’s something you’ll have to deal with as an entrepreneur, but it can be overcome. Just like you go to the doctor and get a temperature reading, it’s important to know where you’re starting from.”
3. Control your social circle and fill it up with low anxiety people
“It’s absolutely critical that you spend less and less time with high anxiety people, even if they’re your family or close friends. There’s a great book called “The H Factor of Personality” by Kimbeon Lee, that I recommend every person read. It’s by one of the scientists who developed the Hexaco score. One of the chapters is very clear, what do you do when you’re with somebody that doesn’t get a great score? Limit your time with them. Just like success rubs off on you, anxiety rubs off on you. The higher you score on anxiety, the more restrictive you need to be on your social circle. Whatever you do, don’t pick a business partner or key employee who has high anxiety. Don’t be afraid to ask them to take the Hexaco quiz as well.”
4. Spend time out of urban cities
“We are products of our environment. We now know this with modern science. If you live in a crowded area that has a lot of traffic and horns beeping all the time, you need a vacation at least once a month. Jonathan Height mentions in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, that he can measure increased cortisol even if you don’t notice it. A vacation can be as simple as a one or two-day getaway from where you live. Take a car and get to a place where you can let nature soothe your mind.”
5. Make sure you’re getting a ton of sleep, ideally 8.5 hours
“I know that some people will argue with me on this, citing people like Arnold Schwarzenegger who told me he never needed more than 4.5 hours a day. But you and I are not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unless you consider yourself some Marvel superhero, stick to the advice of the average doctor, which is getting 8-8.5 hours of sleep a night. It rejuvenates you and lowers your blood pressure. We have better control over our emotions earlier in the day when we are well rested. Forget all of the people who tell you to work 18 hours a day because you can sleep when you’re dead. You’ll get there really fast as an entrepreneur if you follow that faulty philosophy.”
6. Fight anxiety with mental weightlifting
“When I was a teenager, I learned how to use sheer willpower to push thoughts out of my head. I would push them out and repeat another thought 1000 times. Or, I would go to a happy place of a vacation I had gone on as a young child. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally using brute force. Yes, by the way, I do think you should use a meditation app and spend 10 or 20 minutes a day meditating. A friend of mine, Dolph Lundgren, the actor in Rocky, Creed II, and Aquaman, once told me that meditating one hour a day has changed his life. But, just like yoga and stretching is good for your body, so is bodybuilding, where you use sheer force to push. It strengthens your muscle. In the same way, do that with your anxiety. However, if you have a massive, clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, you may be limited and need to follow what your doctor says. But, the vast majority of people, in my experience, can get a long way with meditation and mental weightlifting. It will be very hard at the beginning but it gets easier, just like bench pressing or running a marathon.”
As you can see, Tai has put a lot of thought over the years into the concept of stress and anxiety and how it can affect us as entrepreneurs. We all could take his advice on quite a few of these. Getting plenty of sleep is very important, especially as an entreprenur.
I highly suggest taking the Hexico test; I immediately took it after interview with Tai and it was really helpful in understanding more about my personality. I hope the tips Tai shared with me can help you as well. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, this is your push to work through it and implement positive change.