When we think of entrepreneurship, stories of hardships, struggle, and ultimately reaching success come to mind. We imagine the humble beginnings of now tech giants, a startup that managed to sell for over 300% return on investment, and people capitalizing on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that pay off in the millions.
It’s no secret that these success stories happen, and entrepreneurship has turned the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around for the better. However, beneath this glass ceiling and the glamorized lifestyle seen by the masses is a potentially destructive process that wears and tears one’s mental well-being. And, when you look deeper into the reality of it all, many entrepreneurs suffer the short end of the stick.
Aren’t Entrepreneurs On The Path To Success?
Of course, any entrepreneur would pledge that all their efforts and investments are put forward in the name of attaining their goals and reaching success. It’s one of their defining characteristics, the trait that enables them to call upon intrinsic motivation out of nowhere. But, this drive and promise are only good on paper, and when it comes to the cutthroat competitiveness of any market, the toll it takes is real and devastating.
Under Constant Stress And Pressure
Firstly, entrepreneurs are always under constant stress and pressure to perform and produce results, putting them at risk of burnout and pushing past any healthy limitations. Any sane person who practices self-care would understand the value of pausing and taking a break, but most entrepreneurs have been hardwired to believe the adage — no pain, no gain. They end up justifying all their struggles as “proof” of their hard work and effort and that it will pay off when everything is realized.
In a sense, many entrepreneurs are great examples of toxic optimism, denying all the pain and forcing themselves to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, nothing worthwhile comes without a bit of struggle but staying at that rough place for long periods severely hurts a person’s mental health.
Self-Doubt And Impostor Syndrome
Another dreadful negative impact of entrepreneurship on mental well-being is implanting self-doubt and the risk of becoming victim to impostor syndrome. Strong as they may claim to be, entrepreneurs aren’t perfect people and are also guilty of comparing their progress to others. And when things don’t go their way while the success of other entrepreneurs comes to light, it makes them doubt their capabilities and drags them down to rock bottom.
What’s worse, even when they are on the right track and making steady progress, self-doubt can continue to cloud their sound judgment and can convince themselves that they are a fraud. Entrepreneurs make themselves feel bad despite the good things happening, and spiteful words like “you don’t deserve any of this” haunt their minds.
Failure Can Lead To Depression
Lastly, while we know of success stories among famous entrepreneurs, the other side of the coin also happens, and when one is unable to handle failure well, all the built-up negative emotions can cause things to crash and burn. If even the seemingly happiest of people who put on a smile every day can be suffering from depression, imagine how bad it must hurt for an entrepreneur who’s been struggling only to fail. The sheer weight of that type of burden on the mind is immeasurable, and in the worst-case scenario, cause irreversible damage.
Yes, we know that conventional entrepreneurship advice states that you don’t reach success without meeting your fair share of failures, but our mental well-being can only take so much before giving up. What was deemed a lesson to be learned can also become the source of substance abuse and suicidal ideation.
Things Need To Change
With all of that said, it’s time we shift away from this unhealthy paradigm and change how entrepreneurship is viewed from the ground-up. And while it may seem like a daunting task, we must take the first step towards a future that values the mental well-being of entrepreneurs.
- A Shift Of Mindset: Instead of preaching “no pain, no gain,” we should emphasize that it’s okay to be vulnerable and that there’s nothing wrong with failing the first couple of times. We should avoid the thinking that one must go through so much hardship, and in its place, normalize asking for help, admitting our shortcomings, and being open to taking a break.
- Increased Awareness: We must learn to openly communicate and take an active role as entrepreneurs to formally address the mental health issues in the entrepreneurship space. We have to normalize the idea of seeking mental help, getting ketamine therapy, and consulting a professional to help address our problems.
Entrepreneurship has brought so much good into this world, like numerous job opportunities, wealth creation, and increasing the speed of innovation. So, it is imperative for a better future that we care for our entrepreneurs and value their mental state. Don’t let all the adrenaline do the talking, and feel free to go at your own pace.