Mental Health, Entrepreneurship, and the Identity Crisis

June 2, 2017

5:00 pm

Being a founder of a startup means you’ll be going through an emotional rollercoaster and having strong mental health can help get through the highs and lows of the journey.

On a quiet Sunday evening, and I had just got back from vacation and out of nowhere, I felt the need to tell Rich, my co-founder, about a feeling that had been consuming me for three weeks or so.

For awhile I had been filled by a pretty deep sadness. It wasn’t about any one thing in particular, but it made my tasks seem less achievable. Goals seemed further away, my connection to those around me seemed dull and dampened. Very unlike me, I was low on energy.

After a talk, we arrived at the conclusion that a faint imposter syndrome had turned into the start of a feeling that seemed much like depression. Without necessarily trying to solve the problem immediately, the simple act of telling Rich how I actually felt, made a substantial difference for me. From my experience, mental health is a topic that gets ignored in entrepreneurship.

Whether it’s the stigma that still surrounds it, or if it’s how the media glamorizes working ourselves to the ground, it seems undeniable that founders aren’t paying enough attention to their own emotions yet.

How to deal with stress at work

It gets scarier when you look at how entrepreneurs define their identities. Typically, as James and I mention here, your identity is inextricably linked to your startup, i.e. Fraser = Repairly, James = Sanctus.

It’s an interesting paradigm. When you’re winning, you’re really winning. It means that you hustle harder: when your sense of worth is derived from your business succeeding, you have a strong imperative to push for growth.

But, you’ll also run into this:

mental health, startup, identity

As you can see, there’s a lot of up and downs and the more attached your identity is to your startup’s success, the more your emotions will peak and crash. It’s pretty brutal, in my experience.

This is where techniques to manage your mental health are seriously powerful. They won’t stop your emotions from swinging. But, having your mental health in check will bring emotions to a more stable equilibrium.

In the long term, I believe this will make you a more effective entrepreneur. Your cognition will be less loaded with unhelpful emotions, giving you more optimism, greater clarity of thought, more empathy, more creativity… and the list goes on.

To get started on understanding your mental health, check out the clip below. There’s plenty of discussion on the topic, as well as suggestions for getting started with techniques such as meditation and awareness practice.

Here’s Rich and I talking about mental health and the emotional flow of being a founder.

Read more about being a healthy entrepreneur at Tech.Co

This article is courtesy of Techstars, the best global ecosystem for entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market. From inspiration to IPO, Techstars empowers the world’s most promising entrepreneurs throughout their lifelong journey by providing a global ecosystem made up of tens of thousands of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.

Did you like this article?

Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!

Sorry about that. Try these articles instead!

Fraser is the CEO of Repairly (Virgin Media ’16), an on-demand repairs service for busy people with broken technology. Before Repairly, Fraser founded The Hive and Checkit.

  • Shares

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)
Startup_Mixology_300x250