For most high-achieving fempreneurs, the reality of entrepreneurship involves a lot more than just golden dreams and glittering accolades. In fact, the path to success can often be as treacherous as it is rewarding.
Behind the picture-perfect #GirlBoss posts and glamorous networking events lies a trail of sleepless nights, strained relationships, and a battle with one’s own psyche. And for the relentless few, this is a pricey cost worth paying in the pursuit of greatness.
Being Burned Out and Struggling to Admit It
A passionate founder is always on, always pushing. But what happens when the engine that drives you starts to sputter and stall? Burnout is a very real threat, exacerbated by the “push-through” mentality many entrepreneurs possess.
Unfortunately, for many She-EOs, burnout becomes more of a habit than a temporary sacrifice. Elon Musk famously said: “Running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends.”
Being wholly consumed by your passion is both a blessing and a curse. There’s a fine line between being passionate about your business and being overwhelmed or consumed by it. When the thing you love becomes the thing that drains you, it’s crucial to find balance.
High achievement often means evolving faster than those around you. Relationships, both personal and professional, can and will strain. As your priorities shift, you might find yourself distancing from old friends that you can no longer relate to, or perhaps, evolving alongside a new tribe that understands your drive and ambitions.
New Expectations for Life
With success comes a new perception of how you perceive or want to experience the world. If you’re extrinsically motivated, you may start raising your expectations for the type of lifestyle you have, and subconsciously you may even start experiencing a personal sense of entitlement. Just remember, while it’s essential to celebrate your achievements, it’s equally important to remain grounded.
Scaling your success demands that you reshuffle your priorities. Personal time, leisure, and sometimes even health can take a backseat. In the long term, however, this can lead to poor physical and mental health, as well as feelings of unfulfillment. The most important thing is to recognise when to take a step back to realign after a temporary sprint.
Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. The fatigue that stems from consistently outdoing yourself, from pushing boundaries and breaking barriers, can feel extreme. Arianna Huffington, the founder of HuffPost, learned this the hard way when exhaustion led her to collapse, resulting in a wake-up call about the importance of rest and self-care. Don’t forget to love and nurture yourself while you’re striving for success.
The Big Realisations: When the real work begins
Having a #WinnerMindset is far from glamorous: The constant grind, the late nights, the sacrifices—they don’t make it to the Instagram stories. And they certainly should not be glorified.
When you start digging deeper into the internal motivation behind incredibly successful people, you’ll often find that it’s rooted in an element of trauma. Perfectionism, competitiveness and the need for validation (from oneself and one’s community) often stem from deeper issues. If you find yourself pushing too hard, let this serve as a reminder to stop, reflect, understand, and heal.
There comes a time when every fempreneur must realise that success is a synergy of everything within and around us, working in harmony. It is a balance between mind, body and spirit, where you understand and accept that you can’t have the good without the bad.
Entrepreneurship is a messy game, and so is failure and success. But the weight of regret feels heavier than the weight of failure or burnout. Despite the hurdles, the pain of wondering “what if” weighs heavier than anything else.
To echo the sentiment of Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena,”: It’s not the critic who counts. It’s the woman in the arena, the founder with a vision, the trailblaser, whose face is marred by sweat, dust, and blood; who errs and comes up short again and again. Because in the end, her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.