Response to Russell Brunson on Why Entrepreneurs Suck at Vacations

 In Burnout, Uncategorized

Dear Russel Brunson.

This morning I was watching your video, Why Entrepreneurs Suck at Vacations, and I would like to offer some added perspective on this. By the comments, It’s likely that my little doses of truth and reality could catch flak from people who are younger, simply haven’t come to these realizations yet or have never burned out; but ok, I’m going with it.

First, why do entrepreneurs (or any business professional) really suck at vacations?

Here are 7 reasons (I”m sure there are more)

  1. They don’t have enough support to get away.
    Having a high responsibility job, or business can make it tough to get away.

  2. They don’t have the disposable income.
    If you are early in the entrepreneurial process, vacations in the traditional sense can leave you a bit strapped.

  3. They don’t realize the difference between vacations and trips.
    There is a huge difference; one leaves you thrilled and a little dollar poorer, while the other leaves you rejuvenated. (not a shun on trips)

  4. They are simply too tired to plan a trip and stay in the routine they are used to.
    Let’s face it trips, in particular, take a good deal of preparation and energy.
  5. They don’t have a good enough reason to (another business event coming up) so they would rather work because they “enjoy it.”
    This is often what entrepreneurs do, they make vacations around business trips, which usually aren’t vacations, just time out of the office because they rationalize that it’s actually less stress.

  6. They are successful and haven’t “hit the wall” or experienced burnout, “yet” and want to keep on pressing on. 
    I remember this one, the thrill of the business outweighed the thrill of a trip and a vacation.

  7. They don’t understand the power of rejuvenation and the impact it has on their life and business. 
    Maintaining surplus energy has yet to enter into their consciousness.

Now for that added perspective on vacations.

I love you, buddy, my company uses Click Funnels, we read your wisdom-filled books. I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. I totally get where you are coming from on this; and even today, older and wiser than my former self; those same thoughts plow through my brain while preparing for and going on vacations like the drive to drink does for an alcoholic.

I agree to a large extent, that this is how we entrepreneurs think but I assure you younger man, you will burn out if you keep that up. This is not about living a balanced life, we entrepreneurs will always be skewed towards what we’re up to in the world, and for the most part, outside of other essential aspects of life (our husband or wife, family, the kids, education to some degree, etc; most things in our life revolve around what we are up to. I get it.

But let’s not confuse a balanced life with a balanced lifestyle that is replete with all the essential skills necessary to manage our lives for health and performance.

The thing is, you DID just take a vacation and you DID get some rest and while you may have been stressed due to the tug and pull of your business while away during a huge momentum period with Expert Secrets, who doesn’t feel that stress? You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to feel some stress while away anyway; you could be any professional today, caught up in a world that doesn’t stop, not just because you need a vacation. Things just always keep going.

That’s why people, including myself, have smart phones to deal with just the critical stuff while away as we carve out space for being with family, rejuvenating, playing and having some fun etc. without having to come home to a storm. I am not one of those people who demonize the cell phone. We need to use it for it can do to benefit our lives. It’s also why we set up our exit long before we go.

Vacation is vital to our performance and our success, let alone our health and well-being.

But again, down deep I see you get that to some degree; you DID go away, your body DID get some rejuvenation and my guess is critical issues were dealt with like a pro. Many people don’t go away and largely because of the story you just put into this video even with a positive intent; but as an influencer, may just have made a creed for those people who desperately need some space and time to rejuvenate, but maybe won’t now.

That’s where “performance addiction” starts and the eventual consequences are not fun.

You went on vacation. So, honor that for all that vacations do do for us. Don’t poo poo it as a distraction. You’re better this week in your role because of that vacation and I bet your had fun too. It sure looked like it in the video.

Frankly, I don’t think you should be sending this message because it reinforces our already performance addicted (people who can’t stop because of stories like this) lifestyles, which (for entrepreneurs) are more accurately rooted in the fact that our businesses are driving us a little crazy (possibility development issues, financial, not enough team, or just trying to keep up with the pace and success of things). It just comes across like one performance addict resonating with the performance addict in us all these days, this entrepreneur included, but not nearly the way it would have in the past.

We may love our companies (our baby’s), we want to see them succeed and our message to change the world, but the tradeoff is that, especially in the early stages, there are constant demands on us.

Simply being away is a stress as things build up, but I don’t know of anyone who truly wants to be working all the time any more than a mother wants to be with her baby ALL the time.

It’s not about burning out on our business or our baby, it’s about burning up our personal energy!.

Yes, simply being away is a stress as things build up, but there are ways to mitigate that as I know you know, and that doesn’t require us holding the perspective that we’re just going away for our loved ones (I’m sure your wife loved that one 😉 because we immortals don’t need vacations. We do!

Look, I get it, it’s not an easy thing to do, I have canceled holidays and vacations. I have gone years at times without one, not because I couldn’t afford one, but it was just never the “right time;” and I maintained that story for years always to my detriment with consequences I still feel today. For the longest time, my only vacations where when I had a conference to go to.

It was “business” with a little extra time for me.

I even still struggle a bit with vacations because I myself “love momentum,” as you say; I don’t like to lose it and understand the challenges and responsibilities of running a company. The business is seemingly always needy and needing me.

But I’ve had to, and “we all need to,” get used to managing momentum and come to the realization that rejuvenation periods do not equate to lost momentum. Maybe a bit in the short term but not in the slightly longer term as rejuvenation periods (what vacations are supposed to be) create surges of energy that are highly valuable to entrepreneurs. Not to mention the clarity of power that usually follows a vacation.

Still, despite all the “lifestyle business,” “work on your business, not in it,” “build systems etc” messages that you hear so many “experts” talk about, where you hear about being peaceful on the beach while your business is kicking ass for weeks on end; the thing is, the promise is real, but it rarely plays out that way until ways down the road.

And as you know, many “I’ve made it” pretenders, are working constantly even while they are on vacation. Which reinforces your point. This is our life, and entrepreneurs generally have more control over their time. So, the trade off is, until that point where we have sheer and utter stability in our companies with lots of human and financial depth to buffer demands, we have to get used to working all the time, and taking time out for periods of rejuvenation, even if we work a bit even during that time.

Everyone thinks they’re looking to have that life where things are on autopilot, where we can have that four-hour work (which even Tim Ferris has openly admitted to not having) and have all the time and space we need to live our lives, travel etc;  “lifestyle” business. But it’s just not that simple, and to your point, Tim’s an entrepreneur and if he only had to work 4 hours, chances are he would fill in the other 76 hours of his work week doing other entrepreneurial things, which he does!

And even with the resources that would make that seemingly idyllic life possible, those wh0 can take all the time they want, away, usually, don’t for reasons just mentioned. People will just keep on keeping on with what’s most important to them, and driven by their true nature, which is to create. And entrepreneurs lead this pack. You and I know that because you’re right… when you’re up to something you are passionate in the world, we want to do it all the time, and leaving it, is like that mother just dropping her baby off to a sitter for a week.

We don’t like to do that!

We mostly like what we do, and slowing down is fraught with the realities from facing our true condition (how tired we really are) to losing that momentum that can be hard to regain. But to maintain it, we DO need to regenerate. To maintain high levels of energy and keep going on the things that matter most to us we need to sleep, rest, recover, relax, meditate and rejuvenate at the core of lifestyle that supports our high performance.

I know, the marketplace and sometimes our own heads, don’t give a shit if we’re tired, it doesn’t pause, it just keeps on steaming ahead but let’s be careful not to confuse our desire for momentum, to avoid the stress of our not keeping up with requests and actions building up, with a story that “our work is our vacation.”

It can seem that way, and I have said that a hundred times over, but it’s completely ridiculous and insidious. I assure you, working is NOT a vacation, even if we love what we do. We’re only saying that because we don’t want the stress of things building up or the fear of losing momentum as you’ve stated.

But would you tell an athlete who loves to train, they won’t burn out by overtraining? No. And I know you are a former athlete and one still at heart. I was a wrestler too. You know that overtraining burns you out. Overwork does the same.

Burnout, as it’s so commonly passed off, is not primarily a loss of passion; it’s the overspending of energy and the buildup of fatigue that results in a loss of passion and sticktoitiveness, as the amperage in our body depletes and your action potential diminishes. This is when we start short cutting the process and the natural cycles of things, including sleep and we downward spiral, even if the business is good.

Overwhelmed, with less and less energy, things then start to go awry, not the least of which is the rest of the lifestyle habits we’ve worked so hard to establish and often paid thousands of dollars to learn. It’s certainly not a lack of calories as so many entrepreneurs eat to stimulate their way through the day. It is a lack of recuperation due to non-stop activity, that gets our ball rolling in the wrong direction.

And that reality is lost on some/younger people. They just don’t get that because they haven’t faced true burn out in their life yet, either due to the momentum or success of their business, and countless other reasons. They have a vested interest in just keeping on keeping on and keeping those around them keeping up and on too. It’s good for business now, and in the near term but in the not so long term it won’t be; for you, me, them, our customers, employees or our businesses bottom line.

Just hit your 40’s and 50’s (or earlier) after years of shorted sleep and vacations, little relaxation and going all the time, and you’ll see what I mean. You’re not there yet. But you run that risk “bigly,”

I’m not being negative, trying to find a chink in your armor, jealous of your success, or anything of the like. I started this off by telling you I love you buddy, and I am amazed by your companies success, but I know a thing or two about this evident but detrimental perspective you’re putting out as some tribal mindset for entrepreneurs; a rallying cry to keep going, as if “this is who we are.”

It’s 1-part passion, 2-parts fear, and 7-parts bullshit (not really scientific on that, but you get the idea) and it’s not who we are or what we are; it’s how we are due to our performance addicted culture. It’s flawed on just so many levels I could go on for hours. It also keeps people performance addictedthe only syndrome that could be ruining your life, and people around you are applauding you for it.

As a long-time tech and nutrition entrepreneur turned lifestyle entrepreneur now teaching people (including my self always) how to live a balanced and healthy “performance lifestyle” after years of maintaining the performance addiction you are currently modeling for people in that video, I had to respond to this. There is a new perspective on what you’re saying that is far more productive. And I know you are wise enough to explore it and even adopt it.

We can stop, be, rest, recover, take breaks, meditate, and rejuvenate on stay/vacations in the flux of our driven goal and success oriented lives if we have a performance lifestyle mindset/skills set and understand that performance is a lifestyle, not an addiction.

And it just so happens that vacations are a HUGE part of a lifestyle that is working for you not against you.

Burning out, and trading our health for success has never worked and won’t anytime soon. And I am not implying that you were in any way suggesting people live unhealthily, but tiring out, covering it up, and eventually burning out by making work is our vacation will do just that; it wears you out.

For many, the lack of enough sleep and poor management of their energy kills their performance. It’s the primary reason why they don’t have business momentum as they just keep tiring out and are afraid to take on the stress of running a company.

It’s a lifestyle thing, and way more than just sleep, exercise and working out.

You must admit, to do what you and I are doing and not burn out, or live unhealthy takes a lot of insight and support, and most people just don’t have it. Nor do they often have business traction at the level they need to afford that space and time. They’re getting there, but it is a major error in judgment to endorse a philosophy of not taking time away because it’s on the way up is when we need true vacations most.

I could keep going, but man, you’re an athlete, start conveying the lifestyle that helped you “peak” for events in sports, to the world of entrepreneurship— the world’s most intense sport. If you need some help, I’d be happy to fill you in, but for god’s sake don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, by taking an already over-stressed community of people and telling them that work is our vacation and we don’t need relaxation… “don’t worry we won’t burn out”…  You will. 

I would love it, if I could work not stop, never tire out, and keep going as far and as high as I want to go. That’s our true nature indeed. But we have body/brains to maintain, and these power tools will eventually force us into a lifestyle that meets our needs and maintains our function and performance.  They need to be recharged, refueled etc. And that’s a primary reason why we take vacations.

In the world, I AM an entrepreneur but I don’t want to be that inevitable burnout without a lifestyle that supports me and what I’m up to in the world. Healthy, high achieving people have performance lifestyle’s, they don’t live as performance addicts, at least not anymore.

Let’s talk. Maybe in your next video, we will put out some real wisdom on performance and lifestyle, in the way you deliver marketing insight. Good Stuff.

I know where you were going with this video and you are 100% right, it’s not a job it’s our life! Bravo! I’m with you. Let’s just make sure we respect what lifestyle is really about, and why we need vacations, to fully power up our lives.

I’ve got your back, Russel.

~ JAM

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