Myths that say startups are the most important thing in your life. It has become the norm, and even celebrated, for a startup founder to sacrifice everything for the success of their company. We idolize founders who don’t eat, sleep, stop working, take vacations, bathe, change clothes, see friends, and live in poverty.
We idolize founders who drop out of college and sleep in their investors’ offices, like Elon Musk who slept on the Twitter couch, sending tweets at 4am. We accept that as long as our company grows, it doesn’t matter how much health, relationships, and well-being we sacrifice. In fact, we desire it. Like a form of privilege that accumulates in “rockstar” status.
But the cost is very high. We suffer by sacrificing our health, relationships, and well-being for the success of our company. And in the end, we apologize and invite you to change this narrative.
We must prioritize our own health and well-being above everything else. We must celebrate and appreciate rest, vacations, meaningful relationships, and taking care of our body, mind, and soul — above all else. We must fill social media with posts that celebrate how much we sleep, how much time we spend with our loved ones, how much exercise we do, and how long we meditate, not how much income or money we accumulate.
Humans have a tendency to overvalue unimportant things in life and undervalue important things by considering them ordinary. The “ends justify the means” attitude in entrepreneurship must end — it is a slow but effective way to kill our well-being.
We need investors to consider the lack of well-being as a risk factor and encourage their portfolio founders to prioritize it as much as they prioritize the bottom line. We need accelerators to teach about well-being and train founders on how to optimize it as much as they do to meet product-market fit. We also need founders to rise up, build communities, and share more important things in startup life as a cause for celebrating success.
Everyone must play a role in this, but it starts with ourselves. Let’s stop killing our health, relationships, and well-being so that our startup can thrive. We need to start changing our views on entrepreneurship and embrace the concept of healthy and sustainable work-life balance. This will not only benefit founders but also the entire team and startup ecosystem as a whole.
By prioritizing health, meaningful relationships, and well-being, we will be able to reduce the excessive stress, fatigue, and mental exhaustion that founders and startup teams often face. We will also be able to increase productivity and creativity, as well as maintain good physical and mental health.
Let’s start changing the narrative about entrepreneurship and set a good example for future generations. Let’s stop sacrificing everything for our startup and start prioritizing our own health and well-being. This is a good start to changing the mindset and shaping a healthier and more sustainable culture in the startup ecosystem.