I am 35, and although that’s far from ancient, I find myself wishing I had bottled the seemingly unlimited amount of energy I had in my early 20’s. Until now, I haven’t had much of a reason to be aware of how much energy I had or how I spent it. It wasn’t until I experienced total and utter burnout with Little City Kitchen Co. that I realized how precious it really is to me, in both my entrepreneurial and personal life.
One of the highlights for me in the last month was the class I taught at the newly launched Food Craft Institute, an incubator-style program for budding food entrepreneurs. (Shout out to all my new friends from there!!). As we talked about being mindful about how you spend your energy, a concept from Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited came up in the conversation.
A Tale of Three Roles
Gerber talks about how every entrepreneur juggles three main roles throughout the process of running a business:
- Entrepreneur: the visionary, creative & innovative force
- Manager: manages people & creates processes
- Technician: the one who does the everyday, physical work
In the beginning, I spent much of my time floating between the entrepreneur and the manager roles, dreaming up ideas and figuring out how to make them work. Towards the end, however, I spent the majority of my days dealing with the everyday technician tasks like cooking and selling at the markets, both of which greatly zapped my energy and didn’t inspire a lot of motivation & creativity.
One thing became very clear to me:
The more I was the technician, the less time I spent as the entrepreneur.
In economics, it’s considered an “opportunity cost”. Unfortunately for me, I learned this lesson a little too late in the baby food world, but I’m finding that it has even greater implications in my personal life.
The Two E-Factors
There are two energy factors (I’m calling them e-factors) I now consider at any given moment: the amount of energy I have, and the activities I choose to spend my energy on at that time.
For me, the total amount of energy I have can fluctuate greatly throughout the day. It’s sometimes a function of how much I slept the night before, whether I’ve been around invigorating (or draining) people that day, my overall health, etc… Think about the difference in your energy level when you’re enjoying a relaxing vacation compared to being sick at home on the couch.
That way I choose to spend my energy is equally important. Very recently, I turned down a small consulting project after a 30-minute conversation with a personality that I found extremely draining. To the best of my ability, I’m trying to choose situations (and people) that enhance my energy, not deplete it.
So on that note, here are few suggestions:
- Surround yourself with people & relationships that energize you
- Become aware of people in your life that drain your energy, choose your time with them carefully
- Hire help whenever possible for the tasks that drain you (love me some taskrabbit.com)
- Stay healthy: sleep well, eat well & exercise
- If able, choose a work situation that is positive and drama-free
- Get comfortable saying “no” to situations or people that will drain you
The best scenario seems pretty obvious to me, whether you are an entrepreneur or not: build up as much energy as you can, and spend it in the most invigorating way you know. I’m nowhere close to that, but definitely headed in the right direction!