Don’t Get Sick or Plan for It — It’s Your Choice
Sick Leave? What’s that? As the boss, you probably read tips for entrepreneurs every day. And every day, you learn something new. While running your own company is hard work, you get tons of perks:
- You can’t be fired
- You can work when you want to work
- You can change the rules any time you want
- And you can take a vacation whenever you get an itch to
But you can’t get sick. Sickness means laying up, feeling helpless. At least when you’re on vacation or playing hooky, you can draw on those years of reading tips for entrepreneurs — and quietly check your email, place orders, close sales and take care of behind-the-scenes business with little effort.
But when you’re sick, not only do you not even feel well enough to touch a keypad, but there’s a good chance you’re in no mental state to make sound decisions. And forget about trying to pass it off like there’s nothing wrong. You know it; your team knows it and your customers probably wonder what that frowny-face emoji means at the end of your email. (Perhaps something you added in a medicated fog?)
When the Tsunami Hits
When the big one hits — something like cancer or a car wreck — you do what you have to do to make it through to the other side. If that means working your contacts on a laptop in a hospital room or running your partners and staff through every possible scenario while you’re out healing, do it. The best tips for entrepreneurs who get sick, however, involve keeping stress to a minimum.
Ills of the flesh heal in time. How fast and how well you heal depends on keeping your ills of the mind at bay. Research proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that physical health and psychological health are intricately intertwined. So much so that stress has a direct impact on poor outcomes following surgery and leads to less-than-stellar immune systems.
Prevent What You Can and Deal with the Rest
Stress not only impedes healing when you experience a big health crisis, it also can lead to lesser illnesses that can just as easily disrupt your business. For while you certainly can take a day off to get over a bug, it’s far more productive to play on those days off. To that end, here are 10 tips for entrepreneurs to live by — to stay healthy and free to enjoy all the perks of being the boss:
- Build in time each day for a stress-busting practice — whether that’s 20 minutes on a treadmill or in deep mediation. Do it regularly to reduce stress so that even if a crisis hits, you’ll be in a better state of mind to heal.
- Boss, know thyself. You may or may not be able to heal yourself, but when you’re honest with yourself, you know how much sleep you need to stay sharp; you know better than anyone what relaxes you and you know when you need a break. Listen to your body; it will tell you everything you need to know.
- Understand and follow the guidelines for healthy eating. The standard drill involves: 35 percent from lean protein (think skinless chicken and tofu), 25 percent from healthy fat (like avocadoes and olive oil), leaving close to 60 percent for good carbs (whole grains and raw veggies).
- Stay hydrated. Your body and your mind stay sharp and on-point when you take in the standard 64 fluid ounces of water a day. Keep a glass of water at arm’s reach.
- Keep your energy level high by breaking up your daily food intake into many small bites instead of big sit-down meals.
- Sleep deeply. Sleep is vital for peak performance. Even when you burn the midnight oil on a big project, take power naps to keep the edge off until you can bunker down for a solid eight or nine hours.
- Stand up and move. If you, like the partners at Ray Access, often are tied to the computer to meet deadlines, then you need to consciously make the effort to get up and move at least once an hour for about 10 minutes.
- Fight germs as fastidiously as if you were the charge nurse in the ICU. Wash your hands thoroughly after every human encounter. When you come in from a lunch away from your desk, a meeting or even just a trip to the office supply store, wash your hands. (Secret tip for entrepreneurs: nursing students have to sing the alphabet while they wash their hands to ensure they wash long enough.)
- Take advantage of slow times and breaks in the business rush when they happen. Use the time to get ahead of your work so that when you need to slow down because of a tickle in your throat, you’ll be ahead and can afford the break.
- Surround yourself with smart people on whom you can rely to take over when necessary. Don’t hoard your knowledge. One of the benefits of sharing — besides increasing your own prosperity — is that you have people ready and trained to step in when you need them.
S**t’s going to happen. No doubt. That’s why lists like these tips for entrepreneurs to stay healthy were invented. That’s why, just for today, I like to think that the measure of an entrepreneurial success is not how well you plan ahead, but as Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook puts it:
“The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.”
Or if you prefer to listen to Hippocrates:
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”
Stay well. But if you can’t, then heal quickly.