I was always encouraged from an early age to be balanced in everything that I do. Generally speaking, I’d say that’s pretty reasonable advice — but it’s not always right. Sure, achieving a perfect work-life balance should be a top priority for most professionals, but the same advice just doesn’t apply to entrepreneurs — we’re a different lot.
As entrepreneurs, we have zero sense of balance. We’re all in, all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, weekday or weekend — each of us focuses on our vision with a single-minded passion. I even know an entrepreneur nearing retirement age who plans on working 80 hours a week until he dies, at which point he says he’ll cut his hours in half. He’s not alone. Many of us skip meals, showers, and social gatherings, meaning we avoid anything that diverts our attention from turning our visions and passions into reality. We’d probably work in our sleep if we could. In fact, I bet some of my more creative colleagues actually do.
If you’ve ever seen Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Fort Myers, Florida, you may have noticed the little cot he kept next to his desk. Edison worked long hours, took small catnaps, and then went right back to work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Edison kept a basin under his desk, and used it for something other than garbage.
Edison, of course, isn’t alone in his persistence. We’ve all heard the stories about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg during the early days of their respective companies. And it’s no coincidence that both Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to pursue their passions. Clearly, the more “balanced” decision for both of them would have been to stay in school and to pursue their projects after graduation. But that’s not the entrepreneur’s way.