University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Confessions of an Entrepreneur: Finding Inner Peace

Confessions of an Entrepreneur: Finding Inner Peace

January 19, 2021 | By Mark Zweig

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If you get to know real entrepreneurs, there’s a good chance you will discover that they feel they have something to prove.

Whether that is doing something better than the other businesses that are already doing it, showing the world that they can be successful when others thought they couldn’t be or just sharing their vision of what is possible and making that a reality — it doesn’t much matter. They are motivated and driven to do whatever it is they are doing.

But when you are wired like that, life isn’t necessarily “easy.” Sure, you can make a lot of money doing it but after a while that loses its appeal for most (thinking) people.

What makes life not-so-easy for entrepreneurs is they can’t turn off that need to “prove” themselves in some way. That tendency can drive them to overcommit, take risks they know that they shouldn’t and spend too much of their time on their entrepreneurial “thing” at the expense of all else.

That life can be exhausting.

Even though they (hopefully) love their work, too much of anything is, well, too much! At some point, the need to find some inner peace may be greater than the need to keep proving oneself. And the truth is when you find that inner peace is when you gain real insight. That could very well make you even more successful in the long run.

Of course, many people who own their own businesses in whole or in part just can’t do it. They never find inner peace because they can’t let go of anything they do. They are better than everyone else at what they do. They make a lot of money doing it. Their “world” of customers and clients and employees adores them. They wear their workaholicism and obsession with their business (or businesses) like a badge of honor. If you ask them they will tell you it is “who they are.”

If this sounds like you, what are some practical things you can do to get off the merry-go-round and find some inner peace? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Reduce all commitments. 
  2. This includes both time and monetary commitments. You cannot have inner peace when you are overcommitted. Instead, you will just be stressed. I used to pride myself on overcommitment. Then I never had to motivate myself because I am responsible and would do what I had to do. But it’s a mistake. Same thing for all the stuff. Taking care of it all creates a ton of stress and distraction.

    Not the path to inner peace.

  3. Learn to delegate.
  4. This is what so many entrepreneurs struggle with. They may have become entrepreneurs because they wanted to do something better than other providers of that product or service. On top of it, their business is probably undercapitalized which means every expense has to be carefully managed along with cash flow maximized in order to preserve precious working capital. That makes it hard for these entrepreneurs to let go of anything.

    Learning to delegate effectively to others is critical to finding inner peace.

  5. Create an identity that is separate from your business or businesses.
  6. Just try not telling anyone you meet “who you are” for a year. It’s hard. But it’s necessary if you want to branch out and have a life outside of your business. If your whole identity is connected with your business and anything bad happens to or in your business, it will be crushing.

    That’s not the path to inner peace!

  7. Do something tangible with your hands.
  8. This is always gratifying and forces you out of your normal role as the orchestra conductor and puts you in the role of a doer. That’s healthy. Not to mention doing something with your hands gives you time to reflect and think.

    Without that time, you will never find inner peace.

  9. Get off Facebook and Instagram, and beware of overconsumption of TV news.
  10. So many people are addicted to these things. And they can unquestionably lead to stress and unhappiness and destroy your inner peace. I am in no way advocating ignorance. You have to keep yourself informed. But you also have to accept that too much of this stuff — and keep in mind that we all control those channels and what we see and hear — will destroy your inner peace.

  11. Try putting your phone down.
  12. The phones we all have today are one of the greatest tools that have ever been created. At the same time, they are a 24-hour source of distraction. Every spare moment we have — and I do mean every moment: stoplights, bathrooms, dull parts of movies, meetings, even conversations with our spouses — are all times that the cellphone can fill up with social media, games, YouTube videos, eBay bidding and shopping. None of this stuff will lead to inner peace. Instead it will all work against achieving inner peace.

    So put your phone down for some time every day.

  13. Get a good dog and a good cat who love you.
  14. The only way that can happen is if you spend time with them. Pets are shown to reduce your stress. I know our three cats (we had four until one died recently) and 140-pound dog demand my attention — just as whatever pets you have probably do the same. And that attention (aside from filling food and water bowls, cleaning litterboxes and letting the dog in and out) is time spent giving and receiving love.

    And that helps achieve inner peace, even if just temporarily.

  15. Stop being negative and critical, and be more accepting of others.
  16. This last point is really, really hard for me. I have been a “boss” for 40 years, a management consultant for more than 35 years and taught at the university level for more than 16 years. I have trained myself to be critical and see better ways of doing things. That’s all fine, but if you want inner peace, you must find a way to turn all that off and just be a regular person like everyone else. If you can’t, everyone you care about will get sick of you. They will see you as negative, judgmental and as a know-it-all.

    That surely isn’t going to help you achieve inner peace.

Am I making sense to any of you reading this? Because I would be glad to go on if not.

Do you even want inner peace? If so, are you going to do anything differently to achieve it?

Post Author:

Mark ZweigMark Zweig – a leading expert in management and business for the architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental industry – is president of Mark Zweig, Inc., which has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies; chairman and founder of Zweig Group – named to the Inc. list three times – and entrepreneur-in-residence teaching entrepreneurship at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.