Episode 21:Importance of Self-Care

Escaping the vicious cycle of burnout

Entrepreneurs are usually absolutely awful at taking care of themselves. They work hard on their businesses, they go out and take the risks and make investments and deal with curveball after curveball.

Soon, you are hitting burnout, the fatigue sets in and performance goes down. Because you are less productive, you have to work more. Next, exercise goes out the door, diet goes out the door… it’s a vicious cycle.

What do you do when you are in that spiral?

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Hey everybody

Hey guys, welcome to Elite Entrepreneurs Show number 21. Today is a bit of an unusual one because I’m doing something I don’t often do, which is drive. As you guys know, ever since I’ve adopted the laptop lifestyle, I don’t spend much time in traffic and I usually don’t drive. I usually Uber, go for a party or something. Anyhoo, I am on my way to go get a massage. I’ve just booked in for a two hour Thai massage at this stunning place in Joburg called Serenity Thai Spa. So love the Thai massages. [Inaudible 00:39] knots like you won’t believe. So I thought it was fitting to shoot an episode on the topic of self-care because I’ve been thinking about it. I actually had a chat with a buddy of mine about this topic, about how entrepreneurs usually are absolutely awful at taking care of themselves and there is a good reason for it.

I think as entrepreneurs, you are… The type of person that becomes an entrepreneur, firstly, is the type of individual that’s usually driven by helping other people, by making a difference. It’s a very consistent pattern that I’ve noticed across entrepreneurs. I don’t think I’ve ever once met an entrepreneur that told me that the reason why they are an entrepreneur is because they wanted to create wealth. They also want to create wealth, but usually they want to make a difference. And I think people that want to make a difference in this world will often put other people ahead themselves. You can probably relate to this as I’m saying. So I think the kind of people who start businesses usually are people that want to make a difference, that want to make an impact. As a result of that, they used to taking care of other people.

Entrepreneurs are usually the kind of people that will, you know, they will do anything for other people. They will do anything for their kids. They will do anything for their partner, for their spouse, for their employees, for their customers, et cetera, et cetera. And they love doing it. It’s just what feels natural. As a result of that, entrepreneurs are awful without realizing it, at self-care. This sounds a little bit woo woo, mushy, bunny hugging. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go and hug a carrot or something, but I want to talk to you about a really important, a very practical business issue, which is that your business cannot outperform you. I want to repeat that again. It was a very important statement. It’s like one of these profound ones I just came up with. Your business cannot outperform you. Your business performance is kept at your own performance until such time that you’ve got a big team, you’ve got a CEO and the whole lot where the business isn’t a reflection of your performance. But until then, your performance at work, if you are an employee and your business performance is a reflection of your own performance.

Let’s start with productivity. Let’s start with performance. So if it’s true that your business cannot outperform you, it means that you need to be at peak performance to get the best out of your business. You go first, the business follows. The same thing goes for your team. You go first, your team will follow, and your business, especially will let not outperform you. It just doesn’t work like this. How is this related to self-care? Well, it relates perfectly to the topic of self -care because what entrepreneurs do, and I do this all the time, I’m guilty. I’m the first person. I’m the most guilty person of this. So I’m shooting this episode for me, not just for you. We are kindred spirits at this. What entrepreneurs do is we got out there. We go, go, go and we take the punishments and we take risks and we make financial investments and then we deal with curve ball after curve ball after curve ball after curve ball and we get so used to it that what ends up happening is our health takes a toll, our stress levels go too high, our sleep goes out and the whole thing just goes for a bowl.

In the beginning it’s a good idea. It’s like you don’t really notice it. When you are in your 20s or 30s, maybe even early 40s you get away with it. But after a while you start getting that burn out, you start feeling that fatigue, you start feeling irritable, you start feeling grumpy. What happens is your performance goes down. So I’m going to give you a very real life, very real scenario that’s happening to me right now to you illustrate the point. As you guys know, we make a living from running ads mainly on Facebook and YouTube. Every end of quarter, three Facebook rolls out new algorithms. What they do is they shut down ad accounts, they shut down ads and all sorts of nonsense like this. So for the last month and a half, we’ve been going through this whole thing of ad disapprovals and then we have to rewrite the ad. We’ve got to submit it for approval. We’ve got to submit appeals, all that. You know, it’s a mission. Excuse me. I’ve got a bit of a frog in my throat here.

So then what happens is, you know, it [inaudible 05:24] our revenue. Now, we are growing our company like mad. If you’ve been following us on the Elite Entrepreneur Show, you know that we are busy growing like crazy. So our overhead every month is growing by like another 100, 150 grand a month, every month. So it’s quite scary. So now all of a sudden Facebook conks out. Do you know what happens to me earlier this week? They closed my ad account. They closed my ad account. I woke up one morning and they’ve shut me down. I’ve spent well over 15 million rand on Facebook since I started advertising with them, 15 million rand. For my American friends that’s about a million dollars, which some of my friends in the US that’s what you got to spend a month. In South Africa that’s a lot of money. But they just shut me down.

Anyway, so stress, right? I’ve got rising overhead and I’ve got this challenge in my marketing. What is that called? That’s called a curve ball. So now what happens before you know it, I’m out working late at night and I’m stressing about this whole thing. And that’s very tedious works, very time consuming, very tedious work to try and get all these things back on line. Like oh my goodness, what are we going to do to diversify traffic sources and a whole bunch of stuff. Fortunately, run our company very well. So we are not like in trouble in any way, but we just like keeping an eye on not targets and we take them very, very seriously.

Now what happens is I’m sitting working away and all of a sudden I start feeling the stress build up in my neck, because I’m staring at a computer all day long. The last couple of days I haven’t been great on exercise. The stress levels have been impacting my sleep a little bit and so on. What this is now doing is it’s starting… Historically, if I didn’t catch it in time, it would have caused a little bit of a spiral. So typically what would happen then is the stress levels would creep up, which would then impact sleep. Lack of sleep basically makes one irritable and makes you less productive, so it takes even longer to get work done. And that requires more energy, more effort that we don’t have the energy for it.

It’s a vicious circle. Before you know it, the diet goes out the door, exercise goes out the door, meditation goes out the door, because there is less time available because you’ve got to put in more hours because you are not productive. Do you see where I’m going with this? So the life and times of being an entrepreneur is dealing with curve balls. And this is just one. I mean, this is not a major curve ball in any way. It’s just a curve ball. But we get those things all the time, don’t we? And by the way, listen, it’s not only if you run your own business, it’s life. Before you know it, someone was caught cheating and then there is a financial problem and there is a parent that’s sick. I mean, it’s goodness.

Anyway, cut a long story short. So as entrepreneurs we really have a tendency to not take care of ourselves. Now what happens? Curve balls get thrown at us and it throws us out of whack even more. So here is a question. What do you do? What do you do when you are in that spiral? What should you do first, second and third? A very difficult lesson that I learned is to do the hardest thing first. The hardest thing is self-care. You may be thinking, whatever, Malan. Going for a massage in the middle of the day is hard, really? Listen, it’s not hard physically. It’s hard psychologically because you are leaving the business behind where there are curve balls to be dealt with. Going for a massage in the middle of the day, it is hard because you’ve got problems back home and you’ve got all sorts of issues you need to deal with, issues and tissues as my friend Robin Banks always says.

So from that point of view it’s hard. But it’s the most important thing that I can do and it’s the most important thing that you can do because of what I’ve explained. So I realized, okay, as long as my neck sore, I’m irritable. As long as my neck is sore and as long as I’ve got aching muscles, I’m not sleeping well. If I’m not sleeping well I’m irritable, then I’m less prone to exercise because I’m not sleeping properly during the nights so I need an extra hour or two to try and cram it in the morning and this whole vicious circle.

There is another big problem with being chronically stressed and fatigued and tired, and that’s you are no longer creative. This is a big one, so pay attention. When we become of stressed we lose creativity. So what do we do is we look at the same problem in the same way. We look at the same problem in the same way and we just try harder to solve it. But we end up just frustrating ourselves and everybody else around us because we end up just spinning our wheels really, you know, not really getting anywhere and that’s not very useful. That’s not very helpful. It’s like Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, expecting a different result. So if we are not creative, we can’t solve problems creatively. You need to have creative problem solving and stress is the anecdote to creativity.

If you are dealing with the problem, the number one thing that you need to do is put yourself into a state where you can be creative about it, where you can look at it from a different perspective. Fortunately, I know how to manage it. So we’ve decided let’s make lemons out of lemonade. We’ve been dealing with this issue of Facebook for years. It’s not a new problem. We had a meeting, a leadership team meeting. We decided, you know what we are going to do? We are going to finally launch an affiliate program, which I’m announcing next week. I’m so excited about it because it has been coming for such a long time. It’s just one of those projects we’ve just never got to. So many of our students absolutely love what we do. They are besotted with us. They have been asking us for the longest time, “When are you guys starting an affiliate program? Can’t you get paid for referring people to you?” all the kind of stuff. And we are like, “Yeah, we’ll get to it. We’ll get to it”. But to be honest, we’ve never got to it.

I’m going to come back to why self-care is important. The stressed Niel would have just looked at Facebook and say like, “Ah, Facebook, they are irritating me. I can’t believe these people. Zuckerberg waste too much money, yada yada yada”, bitch, whine and complaint. You know what it’s like when you are getting stressed out and you are like spinning your wheels. We love making ourselves a victim when the chips are down. I decided, no, I’m not going to spin my wheels. I’m not going to get frustrated, upset or angry about this entire thing. I’m going to see it as an opportunity. You know, my friend John Demartini says that life doesn’t happen against you. It happens for you. What he means by that is that everything that happens is there to take you one step further to where you are supposed to be.

In the short term, it looks like bad news often, but it usually turns out well if you are creative. So anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided I’m not going to sit and be frustrated with Facebook. My media buyer and my whole team is on it to get my ad account restored. By the way, fortunately I’ve got four other ad accounts and I’ve got two business managers, I’ve learned. So we are, you know, we are getting the ads back up. It’s just the business interruption, but I still don’t want to be kind of reliant on them. So we decided to implement this affiliate program that I just told you about. I’m not going to go into the details. We are doing a webinar next week, Thursday.

If you are listening to this podcast or watching the podcast, that Thursday may have come and gone. It’s Thursday, the 31st of October, 2019 that this webinar is taking place at 7:00pm South African standard time. We will be releasing this beast. I’m so excited. It’s an incredible program. It’s like we’ve put together best commission structure I think South Africa has ever seen. It’s one of the best in the world. I know because I’m subscribed to quite a few of them. We basically decided to turn lemons into lemonade by being creative. So this goes back to self-care. The moment this whole debacle went down, I’ve been a bit irritated and stressed about Facebook for probably about a month, to be completely candid. I didn’t immediately become super creative about it. But when the ad account got shut down, I just said this, something has got to change, new opportunity. Let’s jump

I decided to get myself into a very creative space and I decided to start self-care because I know about myself. Unless I start to self-care, then things spiral out of control. If self-care is my departure point when it comes to dealing with problems, dealing challenges, dealings curve balls, usually it ends very, very well. So coming back to how I started the show, about going for a massage in the middle of the day. Why on earth would I do that? It’s because if I don’t take care of myself, who is going to? I mean, think about it. I don’t mean anything bad by it. My wife for example, is incredible. She is always looking after me and she is always doing things for me, but she can only help so much. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to apply self-care, isn’t it?

It goes back to the topic of self-care. We should not only taking care of ourselves, I mean this is not a lecture about exercise and diets, although I’m a strong proponent of that as you know, and if you’ve watched the freedom series, you know that I’m always on about those topic as well in any case. But it’s about a philosophy, I guess. It’s about a philosophy of self-care where you have to prioritize yourself. You’ve got to prioritize your own wellness, your own wellbeing and your own effectiveness. You have to prioritize it because your business cannot be more effective than what you are, you know, as I’ve already discussed.

So, yeah self-care is a philosophy I think that we have to first come to terms with because it’s not natural. It’s unnatural for an entrepreneur to put themselves first and to do things that’s good for them. Self-care isn’t just massages. It isn’t just taking breaks and traveling. Self-care means that you feed your own soul with whatever that’s required. Some people like hobbies. They like doing woodwork or they like fishing or whatever the case may be. So maybe self-care for you means that you spend some time pursuing a hobby. I love reading and it’s the one thing that I often neglect if I get so busy and I start spinning my wheels. I don’t read enough. Self-care for me is spending more time reading. It’s just taking time out to sit with the sun on my skin and to start thinking creatively.

There are many different things that go into self-care, but none of those things will happen or materialize in your life unless you accept this philosophy and ideology that you should take care of yourself first. And it’s really difficult. Trust me. I know. I’ll tell you what the final convincer me was. I was listening to a guy do a talk once and he was saying, you know, like if you are flying and they give you the emergency briefing, like any of us listen to it, but the first few times you did listen to it, they told you that in the case of an emergency, if you have a child, you should always put the oxygen mask on your own face first before the child. That seems like a very selfish and self-indulgent thing to do except for it isn’t because it’s an intensely practical thing to do. If you put the oxygen mask on your child’s face first and you pass out, you both die, right? So you need to first keep yourself alive so that you can keep your child alive. Do you understand the cause effect here?

The same thing as a business, the leader is the person that will most influence the success or failure and effectiveness of a company. Everybody else plays an important role, but the leader, the CEO, the entrepreneur, you watching this video right now is the person that will most determine the success or failure of your endeavor. Therefore, practically speaking, you are the person that has to be taken care of most and that has to be the most productive and has to be the most creative and has to be the most effective at solving problems and dealing with curve balls and still motivating the team and rallying the troops and getting things done even if you are tired, fatigue, dealing with a curve ball. The only person, my friend that can make that happen is you.

It’s also important to realize that entrepreneurs, we often blame other people. We often think, “Ah, just give, give, give and people always want my time and so forth”. It’s very easy to get into that spiral of victimhood. And I do that sometimes. But quite frankly you said yes. You said yes to all the requests for meetings. It’s nobody else. You said yes to getting involved in other people’s projects when you don’t feel like it. You said yes to solving someone else’s problem that’s actually there’s to own. By the way, there is a difference between helping and providing opinion versus owning someone else’s problem. There is a difference between the two. Who said yes to that? It’s us. So if we are not taking care of ourselves, we don’t have anybody else to blame. We’ve got to look in the mirror.

This is the departure point. Am I adopting the philosophy of self-care? Am I putting on the oxygen mask on my face first? Am I feeding the machine? Feeding, meaning making the machine effective by providing it the fuel that it requires, the fuel that it needs to run the show, to run the shop. So yeah, that’s my little rant for today. I’m very close to my massage destination. I’m going to completely switch off now for two hours. Facebook can go to hell. I’m very excited about our affiliate program. I’m very excited. We’ve got such an incredible team of people putting everything together. Listen, my team rocks. I’ve got to tell you so. Those guys are incredible. I’m about to go and do some self-care.

Thank you for tuning in as always, to episode number 21 of the Elite Entrepreneurs Show. You know the drill by now. Please go to eliteinc.com/21 and scroll down to the comments and let me know what you think. How good are you at taking care of yourself and can you relate to what I’m saying? What are your challenges at applying self-care? Are you also prone like I am to not prioritize myself and it causes more problems than it solves problems? Join the conversation. I really enjoy the comments and all the questions that I’m getting online. Oh, by the way, please also submit your questions if you want me to do an episode on anything in particular that’s on your mind. Just let me know. I would love to check it out. So go to eliteinc.com/21.

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