Entrepreneurs of every type and in every industry have the ability to make positive change in the world. However, organizing their work and life to maximize output and make the biggest impact takes intentionality, and if left to chance can lead to frustration and giving up. This is especially true of “catalyst” entrepreneurs. Catalysts are people who take in lots of information, see infinite possibility and can’t stop themselves from moving into action.
Tracey Lovejoy and Shannon Lucas believe that catalyst entrepreneurs require an entirely different method of energy management. They are the co-authors of the best-selling book Move Fast. Break Sh*t. Burn Out. and co-founders of Catalyst Constellations and their clients include industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Microsoft, Meta, LinkedIn, Adobe, Amazon and Kaiser Permanente.
Lovejoy and Lucas are familiar with catalysts and their energy needs, being in that category themselves. “Catalysts move fast and burn bright, but if they don’t take crucial steps to manage their energy appropriately, they run the risk of burning out,” Lucas explained.
The danger of “hustle”
Entrepreneurs, particularly catalyst entrepreneurs, are constantly in motion. While Lucas and Lovejoy acknowledged that it is necessary for entrepreneurs to go hard, particularly in the early days of starting a business, they explained that doing so can lead to burnout if it isn’t managed properly. “The notion of hustle is very real for entrepreneurs, so we can easily talk ourselves out of taking down time,” Lovejoy said.
Lucas and Lovejoy noted that many entrepreneurs aren’t entirely sure what the right steps to building their business are, so they are hustling in a lot of different directions. “This creates an extra energy drain, and entrepreneurs can feel like some of it is wasted energy,” Lucas said.
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To make matters worse, many entrepreneurs have an almost-constant underlying fear that they are working on the wrong things. This is even stronger for catalyst entrepreneurs, who are often moving faster than those around them and seeing possibilities that others don’t.
This becomes a constant energy drain, especially when entrepreneurs feel like they must hide their anxiety and fear from the people around them. “Left unchecked, this can quickly spiral out of control. When it does, burnout will soon follow.”
Intentionally pause and reflect
“One of the keys to avoiding burnout,” Lucas and Lovejoy said, “is to intentionally make time to pause and reflect on their path.” For example, taking the time to intentionally celebrate wins, whether it’s big sales figures, great publicity or some other achievement.
Catalysts in particular have a tendency to ignore this step, because they are constantly shifting and updating their goals. “What we thought was a win before we achieved it becomes nothing more than a mark along the path when we get it,” Lovejoy explained. “That becomes our default approach, which means energizing is hard.”
Consciously taking time to pause helps catalyst entrepreneurs energetically balance their inherent struggle between setting goals and then ignoring their achievements once they get there, Lucas said. Plus, taking time to reflect helps catalysts get clearer on where their energy is best spent, which means they no longer have to spin in myriad directions.
Prioritize charging your internal battery
Along with taking time to pause and reflect, Lucas and Lovejoy recommend “flipping your mental script” about how you view building a business. “Rather than thinking of it as a sprint, learn to see building a business as a marathon,” Lovejoy said. Lucas added, “It doesn’t serve anyone if you hustle yourself into a constant state of burnout.”
One of the best ways to shift your mindset is to learn to view yourself as the energy source of your business. In other words, you have to charge your internal battery with intentionality.
This goes far beyond our typical understanding of self-care, Lucas said. She explained that “the term self-care conjures up images of spa weekends every once in a while.” It feels like a luxury. Charging your primary battery source isn’t a luxury, though. It’s an absolute necessity.
Model good energy management
To energize your battery and build energy management into your life and company culture, Lucas recommends making it part of your schedule. Schedule time for breaks. As much as possible, create a flexible, adaptable work schedule. And, Lovejoy emphasized, “if you have a team, talk to them about energy management, and model it for them, too.” If your team sees that you never take time off, you are communicating to them that good energy management is not a priority for you.”
Along with this, they recommend that you get curious about what recharges you and what recharges the people around you. Lovejoy suggests talking to your people to figure out their unique needs. Figure out how you can accommodate those needs within the boundaries of how your business operates.
When entrepreneurs have accountability and autonomy, and then add in empathy, they build trust with their people. That, Lovejoy said, “leads to a more highly performing organization that’s more likely to achieve the entrepreneur’s vision.”
You can change the world
Being a catalyst entrepreneur is an exciting, fast-paced journey. However, your ability to sustain yourself and your organization comes down to your ability to manage your energy and avoid (or come back from) burnout.
“You have to be able to acknowledge when you’re in a state of burnout, or getting close, and take a moment to look at what’s contributing to it,” Lovejoy emphasizes. “Then, you have to start minimizing what’s taking your energy and maximizing those things that give you energy.”
Managing your energy is key to sustaining your mental health and the energy of the people working with you over longer periods of time. It’s the key to achieving your vision and creating world-changing impact.