Being a nice person isn’t easy.
I used to be really good at it. Blissfully floating through life, appreciating everyone and everything. Maybe being an entrepreneur has hardened me, but after many years in business, here’s what I’ve realized:
As entrepreneurs, the traits that make us successful in business can often make us act like jerks in real life.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, my wife asked me where I wanted to go to dinner. Before I could answer, my phone buzzed. A client was emailing me about something technical. Instinctively, I started scrolling through my inbox to find an answer.
“Where should we go?” my wife asked again, as she waited patiently for me to reply.
“I’ve been making decisions all day. I honestly don’t care where we eat. Just decide for me!” I said, still focused on my phone.
Oops. The look on her face said it all. Business Chris had slipped out -- the guy who focused on the highest priority and delegated the rest. Well, delegating to your wife at any level is not something I recommend.
That night, we drove to dinner in silence.
The harder you work at your business, the harder you have to work to keep your personal life in check. In order to maintain a happy personal life while you strive for entrepreneurial success, here are several business bipolarities to watch out for.
You’re Dedicated to Your Vision
A great entrepreneur has a vivid idea of where they’re headed, and the drive to ignore everything else while they pursue their vision. But a lot happens outside the office. You’ll miss it if you don’t pull yourself away once in a while.
Try blocking off non-business days on your calendar, where you do anything but work toward your goals. Your friends and family will have something to look forward to, and the down time will help you rejuvenate and refresh your perspective.
Your Goals are Crazier than Most
We like to commit to impossible goals, knowing that we can achieve big things along the way. Inside your company, audacious goals can be a healthy, motivating force. Just remember to take your foot off the accelerator every so often. Not everyone in your social circle will want to shoot for the moon.
You’re Inclined to Outsource Tasks
The most successful entrepreneurs I know outsource everything they possibly can. Since adopting the habit in my own business, I’ve become hyper-aware of the value of my time. But now, if a friend wants help moving, my instinct is to chip in for paid help on TaskRabbit rather than volunteer to lift heavy furniture. To combat this, value your close relationships as much as you value the time you spend on your business. Commit equally to enjoying more of each.
You Rely Heavily on Your Instincts
Fast-moving entrepreneurs make fast decisions. Go with your gut, right? In business, those are killer instincts at work. In personal life, that’s called being judgmental. I use my instincts to make fast, effective decisions whenever money is involved, but I’ve learned that it’s best to turn them down a notch when conversing with family and friends.
You Surround Yourself with Future-Oriented People
Entrepreneurs tend to be focused on the future; what we're building and where we're going is what excites us, and being around other future-minded entrepreneurs creates contagious energy. A natural downside is that people with different priorities can seem lacklustre. The truth is that everyone has something interesting about them, but you may have to dig into the past (old memories), or the present (their new dog), to get an interesting conversation going.
You Leverage Cutting Edge Technology
In business, using the most innovative tech helps you be more productive, have more capacity, and make more money. At home, having the newest gadget for everything is just a luxury, but it becomes hard to resist. Learn to treat your business credit card and personal credit card very differently, and be disciplined about keeping a personal budget. I’ve been using BillGuard for years to keep tabs on my spending (especially in the electronics category).
You Judge People Based on Relevant Experience
I once helped a client find the perfect employee on LinkedIn. A few weeks later he asked me to use the same recruiting tool to find some good “marriage candidates”. Outside of work, it can be tempting to rate people by their credentials, but personal relationships are rarely that straightforward. In social settings, ditch the need to see a person’s resume when you meet them for the first time. You, and those you meet, will be happier for it.
You’re Always Fixing Problems
The most successful entrepreneurs I know have an eye for solutions. They constantly identify flaws and tweak processes to improve the way they do business. But when you start to look at everything in life with the same critical eye, it can be hard to turn off the habit at 5pm.
To avoid being ‘that guy’ on Yelp who nit picks at every single thing, or the person in your social circle who constantly dishes out advice whether or not it’s welcomed, remember that other people may not have the same resources that you do to find and fix issues. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and hold off on sharing your take on things until it’s requested.
Everyone that’s successful in business develops some habits that don’t perfectly translate to life outside of work. But with a little self-awareness, we can juggle the bipolar nature of our personal and business personas.
Have you ever noticed that the traits that make us successful as entrepreneurs don’t always serve us well in our personal lives?
Or am I alone in my thinking?
Chris Ronzio helps entrepreneurs organize chaos and get things done. Download a free copy of his latest ebook, 100 Productivity Hacks to Improve Your Business, here.