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Loneliness. The hidden dark side of entrepreneurship.

By April 19, 2021No Comments

Loneliness. The hidden dark side of entrepreneurshipWho would step in for you when the SxxT hits the fan?

Do you know what sucks?


Some of you might have had this fun experience when you’ve had the flu or other illnesses.

Or you might be like me and suffer from inner ear issues from time to time.

Vertigo can be debilitating and thankfully this weekend it wasn’t too bad but it reminded me of a time a couple of years ago.

I was supposed to be speaking at an International Women’s Day event but my inner ear decided it had other plans.  I woke up that morning to the world spinning. I couldn’t open my eyes. Every time I tried to stand I’d fall over. The nausea was intense. My head felt totally disjointed from my body.

I managed to drag myself from the bed to the bathroom, knowing that the toilet bowl was about to become my best friend. There I was, sitting on the floor with tears streaming down my face, knowing that the crystals in my inner ear had once again decided to play havoc and feeling alone and lonely as I tried to work out what to do next.

“C’mon Janine you can do this,” I said. … Err, no I’m about to pass out.

I managed to reach for my phone. Still lying on the bathroom floor with the bright screen burning into my brain, I squinted and searched for a number. I had to ask for help.

Kieran” (sniff, sniff) “Are you free today?” (sniff, sniff) “I’m so sick. I have an awesome client that I can’t let down. I know they will love you. Can you help me and step into my shoes?

Hey stop. Of course I can,” she responded. “Are you OK? What more can I do? Leave it with me. Get back to bed and I’ll also free up my diary tomorrow for you just in case.”

Kieran is not just a friend, she is a colleague, sounding board and one of the country’s most in demand female speakers and thought leaders.

But here’s the thing – there were no questions asked, no conversation about money, or what’s in it for her, just simply “Of course I can.”

Beyond. Awesome. 

Without real friends around, real people who will drop everything to help you, well, it’s a lonely, long and slow way up from the bathroom floor. Having this kind of connected and supportive energy around you really does make a difference in your times of need.

When you think about your network do you have those people who would step up for you in your times of need because they put your wellbeing first? 

People who would step in to that meeting for you, go out and see that very important client for you, step up on stage for you? People who would drop everything to do that very thing that just has to be done today because so many people are relying on it being done? People who would drop everything just to be there for you right now.

Do you have anyone in that role that isn’t friends or family?

Or are you alone? Are you feeling lonely?

Ask yourself this: 

  • Who has your back?
  • Who is there to help you?
  • Who will go that extra mile simply because they care?

3 x Things to Think About This Week

1. Who really really has your back? 

Paula Abdul said,  “Everyone is your best friend when you are successful. Make sure that the people you surround yourself with are also that people that you are not afraid of failing with.”

For many running their own businesses, the company safety net and internal networks don’t exist.  

And even for those working in larger organisations, as much as they are connected via a company organisational chart and structure, many still talk about feeling disconnected and alone.

There’s a hidden dark side to being an entrepreneur, says Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author, and that’s the havoc it plays on mental health. She says that whilst the freedom and ownership of setting your own schedule, creating your own rules, and building the company you want to work in is alluring there is also a very real toll and suggests that the demands of business ownership may place entrepreneurs at a  higher risk of specific mental health problems such as loneliness, depression, social anxiety, addiction and self worth issues.  We all need support because loneliness is a slippery slope.

Loneliness has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, and according to a Wall Street Journal article, the rate of loneliness has doubled in the past 30 years, with 40% of Americans reporting feeling lonely.

There is no doubt that climbing the ladder of career success or building the business of your dreams can be lonely at times.  We all experience days of frustration and disappointment, days when we have to face our fears, make tough decisions, push past failures. Days when loneliness appears and we would do anything to have someone to talk things through with. 

So who has your back? Who is this person for you? If I said it has to be someone other than a significant other, who is it?  

They may not share the spotlight with you, but they are absolutely riding shotgun with you.  They go that extra mile. They look out for you mentally, physically and spiritually – because they care about you.  They understand your dreams, goals and aspirations and they encourage you to move forward. They put you and your news first to help you become the best you can be  in times of hardship as well as in times of success.

Take a moment this week to think about who in your world would go that extra mile for you because they care.

2. And Whose back do you have?

I talk a lot about value exchange when it comes to networking and the opportunity that exists when we embrace the mutual exchange of value of ideas, insight, connections and opportunity.

But what about the exchange of real care?  Who are you looking out for?  Do you really know how they are feeling right now?  How they are really really feeling? 

Remember, togetherness really is the only thing that ever drives change. 

3. Block in some time for small talk

Eminent psychologist Robert Cialdini says that whilst small talk may seem trivial, it’s actually the cement that creates rapport.  It’s the small details that can create bonds that enable you to build deeper relationships that are both personally gratifying and professionally beneficial. 

In the busyness of our working lives we can get bogged down in the work that needs to be done (as I shared in my blog, why you need to recharge to perform at your best) and forget about the importance of connecting as people.

Find 10 minutes this week to call someone for a chat – no agenda, no hustle, no business talk – just a check in and chat.

2 x Things I Loved Last Week

1. The Bootstrapped Entrepreneur

I loved listening to this podcast episode from Russell Brunson  where he shared a blog written by Jason Fried, author of Rework co-founder of Basecamp about entrepreneurship. I found myself nodding my head with a “Yes, Yes, Yes”.   Take a listen here and let me know your thoughts.

2. What are the traits of someone that is coachable?

I posted a question on Facebook that asked, “What are the traits of someone that is coachable?” and loved reading the responses.  Clayton mentioned, ‘humility’ and went on to describe this as, “In my experience, without humility you can forget everything else. The willingness of the person to embrace failure, to feel like they are part of something bigger, a complete focus upon what needs to be done, acknowledgment that other people know things, an ability to be patient and do things with authentic purpose. Without this every other notion of ethics/ courage/ determination etc etc will not work.”  What do you think? Message me or post your thoughts on the facebook feed here. 

1 x Action To Take

✅ Take a moment to get clear on who you would reach out to if your own version of vertigo hit. Reach out to them. Thank them for being that person.  You never know when you might need to call on a friend.

Until next week

Janine Garner

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