Do you have the ‘activation energy’ you need to be an entrepreneur?

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” Jim Rohn

Activation energy is the stuff that causes you to leap out of bed at a silly hour in the morning to get on and make things happen. It’s one of those vital, inexplicable qualities that entrepreneurs desperately need.

So what about you? Do you have the ‘x-factor’ activation energy you need to get out of bed and on with your life?

You’ve probably heard about famous entrepreneurs like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook who wakes up at 3:45 a.m. and gets ahead of the game on his email. Or what about Michelle Obama who’s nearly always at the gym by 4.30 a.m.? And my personal favorite story is of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who apparently starts every morning at 4:30 a.m. He purposely rises early to make time for his employees, his family, and himself. It starts by Schultz sending motivational e-mails to employees. Next, he takes exercises by walking his dog. Then, before anything else, he takes breakfast and drinks coffee with his wife.

Listening to those examples, you might get the impression that every entrepreneur is sleep deprived. Is that how you NEED to be in order to succeed? Some might argue that it is. Everyone is different though — and missing out on your sleep may not be the best thing for you. Many medical minds argue that a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. People that try to stretch their day, run the risk of shortening their lives.

Mix all of these insights together and you discover a common-sense middle-ground: It’s what you do with your time that matters more than how you extend your day.

When researchers have explore what makes people successful, about the only common trait they can find and agree on is that successful people are myopically focused on their passion and they prioritize their time awesomely well.

Being an entrepreneur demands clarity of prioritization in what you’re spending your time doing and why. Achieving that clarity requires space in your dairy and space in your head to …well, think!

In the modern digital society, we’ve a habit of self-cluttering our day with snacking on social and not giving ourselves quality time to think. We are almost obsessed with filling time with noise. This doesn’t help deep thought or relationships. One of the consequences of ‘time clutter’ is that we don’t pay attention to the person we’re meant to be listening to, or give the task we’re working on 100% of our attention.

Psychologists have researched the impact of physical clutter on our lives and found that it can lead to lower subjective well-being, unhealthier eating, poorer mental health, lower efficient visual processing, and less efficient thinking! Is digital snacking on the web or encouraging constant notifications from your phone going to be any less impactful?

Is it any wonder that we do our best thinking while walking the dog or taking a shower? These are moments when our brain is able to tap into resources that are normally busy talking to work colleagues, answering emails, getting pocket vibrations from the latest round of Groupon deals.

Through all of this, YOU NEED ENERGY. There’s no substitute for feeling that pulse of activation energy to get you buzzed up and out of the bed. So where do you get that buzz from?

For many entrepreneurs, it comes from a passion to succeed, or to feel that you’re making a difference. Those leaders I know who run social businesses and charities tell me it comes from knowing their efforts are rewarded by the results that come to someone else. Feeling like you’re making a real difference to others (and not wanting to let anyone down) can be just as motivating for some than the outlook of a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for others.

The first step to achieving your ambitions is to recognise you NEED energy to give you the strength and determination to succeed in whatever you do. Once you accept that you need it, all you need to work out is where to get it from — and you’re half way there.

And remember, the people crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that normally do!



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Ian Tomlin

I'm passionate about the role of conversation in life and business. These are my perspectives on life and my passions including business marketing.