Deep from the trenches of startup marketing we hear voices. We hear voices that tell us if we just send one more email, draft one more press release, test one more variation on a landing page…that we’ll hit gold.
What we sometimes forget though in this process is our mental health and our team’s strength and stamina. And while I will (still) say most startups fail from lack of effective marketing, I’d also venture to say it’s because the leadership team burns out. They push until they start spinning, losing sight of what really matters.
I’ve been going hard with startups on and off now for over ten years. And the flame of the midnight oil often just burns brighter because as I/we see success, it persuades us that working hard(er) pays off and can (or should) replace our personal time.
It. Can. Wait.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in the past six months is that racing for the gold has its value. But not at the expensive of regularly eating dinner without always multi-tasking (working), or failing to read a bedtime story to my son several nights in a row, or repeatedly sparing sleep to get a few more projects done late at night. If anything, my/our work quality begins to degenerate and our prowess for seeing the more finite details becomes blurred.
Most projects can wait another 24-48 hours. (Let’s be honest – few of us are saving actual lives with our work.) In fact, people and projects are surprisingly forgiving to allow a little extra time for sleep or a family dinner which re-charges our brains and produces extended creativity.
An impressive addition to this topic was a little book on The Greatest Science Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer. Though I’m still working my way through all the fun stories like who really invented the lightbulb; the greatest, most inspiring section thus far was the introduction. The intro highlighted that many and most great scientific discoveries happened serendipitously. That in the less forced, casual moments we often have our biggest break-throughs.
So to that – I’m not suggesting myself or others stop working all-together to achieve major break-throughs. But I do recommend more lunch breaks sans checking email, a 30 minute run every day, a happy hour meet-up here and there, and an exerted effort to learn something new (not work related) every week like a language or the history of Medieval Times.
It’s the unique facets of being human…of catching up with a friend for a few minutes, taking a walk outside, of pushing our physical and mental limits through exercise, or simply seeing things outside our 9-5 work zone that allow us to truly innovate and go from good to great.
It. Can. Wait.