Founders that are always hustling can jeopardise business success

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For too long, Aussie founders emulating the tech startups in Silicon Valley, have succumbed to the pressure to feel they must always be hustling. But this is not only false, it is dangerous for founder wellbeing and can jeopardise business success.
As a founder of multiple tech startups since my 20s, I learned the hard way that nobody is built to work for 16 hours, day after day, year after year and take naps under their desks.
We’ve become seduced by the idea that working long, grueling hours is the definition of productivity and success. But it’s a fool’s errand. In reality, our personal wellbeing and mental health plummet, our home life suffers.

I was in my mid-30s when I joined my two co-founders to build Lumi.Media. I’d just become a father and despite being super excited about the journey we were embarking on, I was careful to not repeat the mistakes I’d made before and maintain a healthy work life balance.

Now as I’ve entered my 40th year, with a newborn baby and school aged child and our startup growing rapidly, I know that I am at my best when I can do the school run without watching the clock and hurrying back. Those moments of pause and balance throughout my day recharge me and I come back to my work more focused and impactful.

The pandemic has further debunked the always hustling myth, proving that in fact we are not only productive working from home, but we are even more productive. The way we benchmark productivity has to shift from hours worked at a desk, to focus on the quality of thought and output and importantly on the results.

When your life is well-balanced, magic really happens. You become more focused and you kick goals through determination. Chaining yourself to the business and making that your only life focus limits success. Countless hours and extreme exhaustion mean your creativity and decision-making suffers.

Steadfast adherence to the hustle culture is a fastrack to burnout. The World Health Organisation describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Burnout causes founders to have a pessimistic approach to work. Once your passion starts to waver, you risk making poor judgements and that can be all it takes to compromise viability.

As an entrepreneur you must focus on what is of utmost importance. What is the big thing you are trying to achieve? Don’t get distracted worrying about competitors or sweating the small stuff. And don’t feel guilty for spending time away from the business. Nurturing your relationships, your wellbeing, and giving yourself time to eat healthy, exercise and recharge will dramatically improve your focus and productivity.

Sleeping under your desk, eating takeaway food and having a family that barely sees you is not the recipe for business success. It will mean you can only run a sprint and true success in business requires a marathon.

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