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Photo by Prixel Creative

Photo by Prixel Creative

Entrepreneurs are thought leaders, ambitious and driven. On the flip side, they can be rather rebellious, anxious, emotional and neglect their health, sleep, and rest. Our generation has been pitted against visionaries such as Steve Jobs and young founders like Mark Zuckerberg. The list of successful young entrepreneurs is quite long and 20 somethings are faced with an aggressively competitive streak to achieve a lot more than their father or grandfathers did at their age.

For some self-starters, the air of competition lends motivation. For others the fierce rivalry to achieve and obtain can be detrimental to a healthy state of mind. Strong emotional states could include bouts of depression, suicidal thinking, and lack of motivation. The responsibility of starting your own business, overseeing staff, marketing, handling finances is exhausting and independence comes at a price. The same fire that drives founders and entrepreneurs is the same that burns out their energy. It’s true that nothing great is achieved without passion, but its equally important to care about the inner self that guides us through everything in life.

What can entrepreneurs and founders do to get in touch with their other (inner) side that may be suffering silently?

Tara Joyce passionately writes and advocates about being an Innerpreneur. She describes an Innerpreneur as an Entrepreneur who use their business to find personal fulfillment (creatively, spiritually, emotionally) and create social change. Her website has been rated by Forbes as one of the best websites for entrepreneurs. I asked her a few questions to understand the balance between the two:

Q | HOW DOES COMPETITION CREATE A CONFLICT FOR THE INNER BEING? It’s not competition itself that creates conflict in the inner being, but rather the intention behind that competition. Competing because you desire victory, and being a winner at the hands of another being a loser, will undoubtedly create conflict. For you have unconsciously decided that you are not enough, and that you’ll be more if someone else is less. Competition, in this intention, is an act of being better than others, and reducing yourself. It’s an ego concept that invariably creates distress.

However, if you see the value in the (competitive) action done for it’s own sake, whether alone (competing with yourself) or in the company of others (competing against other competitors), it can bring out the best in everyone. In this instance you are doing your best — and wanting others to do the same. Which is rather empowering and transformational, and conflict-free.

Q | HOW CAN ENTREPRENEURS AND START-UP OWNERS ALLEVIATE THAT STRESS FROM WITHIN? Embracing the “spirit of play” is the best way I have found to alleviate the stress of competition when it internally takes on the shape of being a “winner”, “loser”, and/or “the best”. When you can be totally and tirelessly absorbed in and enjoying your actions or work, you are able to step outside of needing to keep score of how you are doing.

In essence, find a way to enjoy the process of the action — the beginning, middle, and end — not just getting to the end, and the results it will bring. Pay attention to the places in your life where you are able to “play” and enjoy the process, and pay attention to the places where you are not. Make time to “play” each day in those spaces that feel good and work on bringing more play into the places in your life that feel more heavy, serious and “work”-like.

Q | DO YOU THINK IT'S BETTER TO COMPETE WITH ONE'S OWN SELF RATHER THAN COMPETING WITH OTHERS? We each have a preference, which I feel is determined by our personality and how we receive energy. For introverts, they more likely enjoy competing with their own self, whereas extroverts likely enjoy competing with others. In the end, both are equal forms of competition, as long as they are coming from a place of doing our best, and not of needing to supercede anyone else.

Q | WHAT SUGGESTIONS OR ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ENTREPRENEURS SO THEY CAN CREATE A BALANCE WITH THEIR INNER SELF? Understand that doing the work and working is not the only need you and your business has. Infusing play into your life is immensely valuable, whether it looks like turning your work into a more playful experience or simply making time to play. Take time to find the spaces in your life where you feel wholly engaged and present, and make time for them, whether they look like “work” or “play”. They will help you grow your business, and give you a foundation of balance in your life.

Q | DOES A COMPETITIVE STREAK FUEL CREATIVE ENERGY OR DIMINISH IT? A desire to be our best is sustainable fuel for our creative energy. A desire to be THE best inevitably diminishes our creative energy due to its impossibility of attainment.

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