How do you avoid burnout? For many entrepreneurs, work/life balance feels like a myth. We hear about founders and business owners working 14 hours a day, or 100 hours a week. But a major lesson, one that so many learn the hard way, is that it’s difficult to continue growing a business if you aren’t growing personally.
And that growth takes time.
That’s one of the lessons successful entrepreneur Rhett Power has learned over the years. Rhett is the author of The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions, and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award winning startup toy company. Prior to founding Wild Creations, he worked as an economic and small business development consultant for USAID.
I recently interviewed Rhett to get his philosophy on leadership and time management. (The transcript below has been edited lightly for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: You say, “Break, brake, breathe to avoid burnout.” What do you mean?
Rhett Power: I think if you don't take a break, it will break you. You get so wound up, and so stressed. I remember this instance where my business partner and I were sitting at the back of our warehouse one day and we were just completely broken. I think the only reason we both didn't break down and sort of crawl into a corner and have a complete meltdown, is we were both standing there to see who the first one to sort of fold was going to be.
You’ve got to still do some things that you love, you’ve got to still spend some time with your kids, you still have to spend some time with your buddies. You have to take that time and take those breaks. I had to learn to pull myself away, and go back to doing some of the things I love, some of my hobbies. If you don't, you get so absorbed. I was guilty of this. I love working; I enjoy what I do.
I know for me, I'm terrible at time management. It's one of my huge weaknesses, and I have to really stay focused on it. Which means for me is, I'll work a 14-hour day because I didn't manage my time right, or I didn't say “No” to somebody I should have said “No” to. I have to have a friend that pulls me out. I learned that after a few years of working 80, 90, 100 hours a week, that you have to have a friend that can help you kind of take a break, take a weekend off.
If you don't, you're going to burn out.
Kruse: What are your tips to be a great leader?
Power: I think everybody's got to find their own style, but you have to analyze great leaders. I think being transparent, being consistent, being honest, being encouraging, and being an example are all things that are the hallmarks of good leaders, and great leaders.
Kruse: People are always asking, “I'm struggling with procrastination, how do I cure it?” What's your advice?
Power: Well here's the thing, I've never been diagnosed but I think I have ADD. Everybody on my team will tell you, I have the attention span of a gnat. I get very easily distracted, and this goes to procrastination.
I have to make lists first and foremost. I have to manage my day like this. I have to take the time to focus on the things that I don't like to do. Those tough emails, those tough phone calls. If I don't do those right up front in the morning, and that's what I try to do with my time is actually schedule the tough stuff first. This is just my personality. I'm not saying this works for everybody, but I have to schedule the tough stuff first, then get to the stuff later in the day that I like.
I've disciplined myself over time to do that. To get those tough things out of the way first in the morning. It is essential that you do those. That's a business killer. Procrastination can really, really put a dent in your business.
Kruse: What's something new and specific that you want our readers to take away from this, that they could go and try at work today?
Power: One of the things that I have learned over years in business is that you can't do it alone.
Go out and make a list of a few people who would be a good mentor. By the way, you can have more than one. You can make a list of people in different areas that might be helpful to you, and reach out to them. Ask them you’ll take them to coffee, and ask them if they would sit down with you once a month or so, and be willing to help you along your journey. I think most people will be flattered to do it in most cases. I think it's really essential.
Click here to listen to the entire interview with Rhett Power.