There's not doubt it is and has been flu season across the country for quite some time now, and not just flu season, SWINE FLU season. This is bad enough because the flu is just not fun - it makes life physically and mentally challenging for too long - but when you are an entrepreneur/small business owner it can hurt that much more! Who's going to take client calls if you are a solopreneur? Who is going to finish projects even if you have a team (as you KNOW you are all wearing many hats)? Who is going to fill in the time you miss during the 12 hour days you often work? We as entrepreneurs rarely take sick leave! We just don't - often because we can't! I know an event planner who was back to work within a week of giving birth! Who does that !?! Entrepreneurs do. Many times because we can't stop - just ask CNN - they know it too! When you're sick and own a business the story is different! As their story mentions and is so right about - business owners don't really get sick leave.
Now back to our story.....With these questions abouot what will become of our businesses in our heads we ignore the nagging coughs, the growing fever, or the aching joints. I know I did. Here's a confession: I have felt sick on and off since October! I consulted my physician over the phone (read: I called my dad who is a doctor because WHO has time to go to the doctor) who told me to get some rest. My business partners at Tin Shingle and Red Branch PR both told me to go rest. But no, I decided I had work to do.
And then it hit me - full on flu. I was a mess. I had fallen (into the flu) and could not get up, and work stopped for me. Low and behold I was mildly laid up for a week on and off, and what I feared most did not happen: my businesses didn't fall apart, clients didn't freak out, and the world did not end. I will say I work on great teams and have great partners and systems and things continued as they should. I slept a bit but also emailed from bed when I felt better. I then talked to another doctor and told him I couldn't seem to get better. Yes, I admitted, I had been out to a few meetings while recovering, I had worked nearly daily (even if from bed under covers), and YES I did utter the phrase "from my cold dead hands" when my business partner tried to take away my laptop while I was working from home (he won).
My doctor informed me I had "the entrepreneur's flu". Basically: we work, work, work and then never pull ourselves out of our rut of feeling crummy and sick - sometimes due to the flu, and then the lingering after-effects we feel because we never heal, rest or recover. We beat down our immune system down with lack of sleep, bad nutrition, overworking and overstressing and then keep coming back to work and possibly infecting our teams. My response to his thoughts: "I should blog about this". Clearly, I had it bad...even my diagnosis was a business story.
That said, I held off, and now here I am discussing it. Yes I'm currently mildly stuffy again and losing my voice, though I attribute this to part real cold/part spending Thanksgiving weekend around kids/and part due to the fact that rest continues to be at times a mirage....But I've vowed to fight the flu, and I encourage you to NOT do what I did and work until you don't listen to your body anymore....The irony is, we try to work through it and not miss any work and we come to work as less than a team player, we put other team members at risk, and we don't work to our fullest potential. On top of THAT we prolong the illness! Not good for business or your personal life.
I've now made a pact with myself to remember 3 things, and I encourage you to actually follow these words of advice, I promise they make more sense than my first system of "working through it":
Repeat after me:
I (state your name) do promise to:
- Remember that my health is more important than my job. It impacts my performance, my clients, and my team. I will value it more than any project or assignment on my desk.
- Remember that lack of sleep leads to lack of health and lack of clarity. It also leads to lack of people wanting to be around you because you are so darn crabby.
- Remember that as Sabina's mother (and her inspirational books) always says "you can't strap a U-Haul to your hearse Sabina". And you can't! At the end of the day all that hard work means NOTHING if I can't live a healthy life that allows me to enjoy it with the ones I love, and the one that I love are are not things that I can plug in.