In 2015, the U.S. was home to an estimated 27 million entrepreneurs.
By the year 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects 157 million people will live with a chronic illness. Forecasts concerning the chronically ill, both in terms of the numbers affected and the severity of symptoms, are staggering.
This suggests one hell of an overlap quite a few of us entrepreneurs will fall into.
A peek into the state of sick self-starters, reveals a slew of us do indeed battle relentless physical and mental disorders. That we are entrepreneurs, who live and work with chronic afflictions as ever-present as unwelcome coworkers.
Which leads me to my point.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a meme stating in stark type that in order to run a business, you must first possess perfect physical health.
Many entrepreneurs aren’t blessed with flawless vitality. I’d contend that there are far more of us who are actually striving to survive myriad illnesses, evident or invisible than might be apparent through observation or statistics. Disabilities and challenges run the gamut from physical to emotional to learning disorders to those ailments still undiagnosed. These hurdles are real and restraining, even if they aren’t understood. Diabetes, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Epstein-Barr, depression, or the disease I contend with: transverse myelitis.
So many handed a life sentence, yet scores of entrepreneurs continue to conquer in the midst of misery.
It might be more accurate to assert that ill self-made men and women actually count on the rewards given when they plow through impasses. That we may even require such “distractions” to take our minds off sustained suffering.
Medications prescribed to halt tremors, to strengthen balance and still vertigo are not 100 percent effective. Chemo drugs may tarnish a patient’s longing to work for themselves, but they don’t erase it. How well a person succeeds has everything to do with their mindset over their (perceived) sense of physical control. Which is not to acknowledge that certain diseases aren’t more challenging to manage and that sometimes, even the most glorious optimism may not quiet physical agony.
Your health doesn’t need to be impeccable before you launch your business, neither does it need to be spotless in order to successfully grow and sustain it.
While struggling mightily with mine—some days I would lie down and type because I didn’t have the energy to sit up—I refused to be held back as I used the transformative power of positive thought to embark on a journey of reinvention even when my body called in sick. After I lost my job due to my illness, I launched into entrepreneurship out of necessity. Networked, self-taught, offered, asked and bartered. My bar was low: achieve one goal per day. No less laudable than landing a six-figure signed contract.
When I obtained my personal definition of victory, it was fuel to climb onto the next step.
Because the power of the mind improves the state of our life. Especially if you are an entrepreneur.
But none of us will ever reach perfection in anything we do. Even if our physique qualifies us as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Isn’t that why entrepreneurs keep reaching anyway? Because that’s what we are programmed to do? To slam a cap on our excitement and potential, on our very DNA, is devastating. So many of us are propelled to forge ahead, we may not have any control over stopping. The drive that resides in any one person to overcome, innovate and create is no less intense when housed in a physically-challenged body.
Recently, I partnered with several, ingenious fertile minds and I did it in less-than-ideal health. Because chronically-ill entrepreneurs are the poster children for: “Work smarter, not harder.” I needed capable and strong team members to help me be my best in business. I needed to identify workarounds that would permit me to thrive.
To keep moving forward even as we grapple with contentious illness, we have to carefully assess the sources from which we draw advice.
It may serve us better to consider epiphanies from a person who has been in similar shoes, instead of one insisting we must achieve the impossible before we can even get started! It is dangerous to paint with the broad-brush notion that you must first accomplish pristine physical health instead of embarking on what makes your heart sing. Plying your passions heals you! As your pulse beats bolder, as you receive reinforcements for progress made, you will believe it is possible to surmount the seemingly insurmountable.
Precisely the fuel you need to scale your next mountain…or business!
And an excellent reason to tap into your purpose of service.
Everyone is fighting a battle. Some are better at hiding it due to the nature of their illness. Others do not have a choice but must wear their condition like a kind of twisted badge.
You are not your disease. You have a disease. This is the singular most important truth you will read as a wounded member of working society.
It may require untapped innovation to keep producing. But as legions before us have proven, it is possible. And when our unique brand of victory is attained, it’s breathtakingly rewarding.
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