By Neil Patel
Are entrepreneurs somehow different from the average mass of humanity? Yes and no. Entrepreneurs aren’t distinguished by higher IQ, greater determination, force of will, or creative prowess. Others possess the same traits in equal or higher levels. So, what makes entrepreneurs different?
Entrepreneurs aren’t better than others, but they are different. That difference lies in some of their key habits, habits which aren’t ordinarily found in others. Here are five of those entrepreneurial habits.
Get enough sleep.
There’s this idea about entrepreneurs that they need virtually no sleep. My experience doesn’t confirm this. More importantly it really doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, either. Sleep is the secret weapon of successful people.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote these lines:
The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night
It sounds very inspirational. “Never go to bed! Be successful!” The truth is, you can’t be successful unless you get enough sleep.
According to the Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans “experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night.” Even more Americans (63%) report that “their sleep needs are not being met.” Sleeplessness is such a problem that the CDC calls it “a public health epidemic.”
Sure, there are those notable entrepreneurs who are gifted with the ability to survive off of only a few hours a night. For the normal human entrepreneurs, however, sleep is essential.
For example, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money said, “I try to be in bed by 10.30pm. And I always sleep like a log! I need and get about eight hours a night.” Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson was asked “How much sleep do you get?” His answer: “Enough.”
We all need enough sleep, and for the high-octane, high-powered efforts of entrepreneurs, sleep is critical.
Every one craves recognition, esteem, and respect. It’s part of being human.
But some people try too hard to get that respect for themselves. They ask for it, by drawing attention to their own qualities, appearance, work, success, and accomplishments.
It’s called bragging, and a lot of people do it. Bragging stems, not only from a person’s desire for respect and admiration, but from a deep seated sense of insecurity as well.
If anyone had a right to brag, it would be the successful entrepreneur. Many entrepreneurs have tasted success, earned good money, achieved their goals, and lived out their dreams.
Bragging isn’t necessary. In a ironic twist, those who brag are actually less respected. By contrast, those who don’t brag are respected even more. They are respected not only for their success, but for their modesty surrounding that success.
The state of American health is legendary for how bad it is. 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise, 68% are overweight or obese, and about half of all adults suffer from a chronic health condition.
Entrepreneurs, for the most part, do exercise enough. YFS Magazine goes so far as to say that “exercise improves an entrepreneur’s bottom line.” I would have to agree. Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter, insists that entrepreneurs should exercise every day.
The biggest reason people don’t of course, is lack of time. But, as evidenced from the amount of major benefits of exercise, exercise actually gives you back your time — time in increased productivity, higher-quality sleep, and a sharpened mind.
Everyone does plenty of reading. We read Twitter updates, Facebook statuses, and articles galore. But how about books? How many people are actually sitting down, taking time, and putting forth the sustained effort of reading a book?
Apparently, not a whole lot of people. Nearly a third of American adults didn’t make it through a single book in the space of a year, as reported by a Huffington Post poll and confirmed by Pew Research.
Why is this disturbing? Because reading is correlated with higher levels of income and success. Business Insider reports that 88% of rich people read self improvement materials for at least 30 minutes a day.
Entrepreneurs understand that they won’t learn everything about success just from the school of hard knocks or their Twitter feed. They’ll get it from books.
Do you take breaks? If so, then you’re smart, not weak.
The average entrepreneur works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. You could say he’s a workaholic. But the smart entrepreneur also takes breaks.
The Huffington Post reported, “A study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and published last month in the Journal of Business Venturing found that the ability to step away from the office is such a valued tool among experienced entrepreneurs that it actually improves their psychological well-being.” The study reported high levels of entrepreneurs knowing and taking the advantages that a break gives them.
Clate Mask nailed it in his Entrepreneur article. “Why [do] entrepreneurs need to take a break?” The answer: “If you are always head down in the day-to-day responsibilities, you will not have time to set the vision for the future, to plan, to strategize and to think about growth. To thrive, entrepreneurs need to take a step back from working in their business to think about and focus on their business.”
If you don’t take a break, your work will break you. There’s no need to feel guilty about taking breaks. It’s actually a marker of success.
If you’re always plowing forward, never enjoying a reward, then you’ll eventually burn out. This is the risk that entrepreneurs face.
A lot of people lurch to the other extreme — taking in too much reward. It’s evidenced in the hours of entertainment television, expanding waistlines, and maxed-out credit card. The average “reward” has spiraled out of control into a lifestyle of reward, which leaves no room for true reward.
Work hard, but take time to play hard, too.
There are a lot of things that entrepreneurs do that normal people don’t. It’s not some elitist thing. It’s just the fact of life in a business-building world. We sleep, exercise, read books, take breaks, and reward ourselves. It’s the only way to survive and still be successful.