Don’t worry about working too hard

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by Groundswell Social Ventures cohort member, Jeremie Yared

Don't worry about working too hard...just regularly make sure you’re loving it!

We had the privilege of having Madeleine Shaw pay us a visit at Groundswell last week. Madeleine is the founder of Lunapads, a feminist social entrepreneur with a soft bright energy that just lures you in, and a mentor and advisor at Groundswell. She shared with our cohort some insights from her vast experience in social entrepreneurship, and took the time to answer all our questions.

Well, she answered the ones we asked. There was this one question I let burn a hole in my throat, and as I walked home that evening I cursed myself for not asking on the spot. Waking up today, I thought I'd throw it out here for our community to ponder.

As our Q&A session drew to a close, Cass asked the question she asks all our guest speakers (we never properly thanked you for that, Cass!): “Thinking back to when you started Lunapads, what did you do for self-care”? Madeleine smiled as she gave us an answer that echoed what most before her had told us: “Well, I've only started paying attention to that very recently”.

She then added that if there was one thing she could tell her 20-years-ago self, it's that she didn't have to work so dang hard.

It was not the first time we heard something along these lines either, so I couldn't help but wonder. We have all these accomplished social entrepreneurs come in and tell us how hard they had to hustle at the beginning to get things started, and how they wish they knew then how to relax and take more time for themselves.

But if they did, would they be here today to share their success stories?

Creating a business is often compared to birthing a child. Now if you've ever spoken to a mother who had recently given birth, there are good chances she told you, without any prompting, she was NEVER doing this again.

Yet more than half of the Canadian families with children have at least two of them. So people do go on to having a second baby, and then some.

Maybe founders also suffer from this selective parent memory syndrome, only in reverse?

Maybe founders also suffer from this selective parent memory syndrome, only in reverse?

Maybe instead of looking back to the early days and erroneously thinking everything was really easy, reminiscing founders feel like the beginning of it all was much rockier than it was in reality?

Of course I could understand if that were the case. The people we meet made it. And I can imagine that once you are there, once the ball is rolling, you do get more comfortable. It's only normal that from their current position, they'd remember harder times as being, well, harder. Not that they suffered, or that they hated it. Just that everything was much more challenging.

What I'm getting at is that everything depends on your point of view. For us Groundswellians who are just at the eve of creation, it's definitely good to know things might get hard so we don't panic when the going does get rough. But it also might serve us to focus on the joy and excitement we get from these crazy times. From looking at the infinite possibilities ahead of us. From juggling with a thousand things at once. From finding our flow, from making connections, from receiving messages from the universe.

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I look around, at my fellow cohort members, at myself, and I see no one complaining that it's hard. I see a lot of emotions, a lot of doubt, a lot of confusion, a lot of fear. All of that and much more. But I also see people doing exactly what they want to be doing, and showing up because they want to be on this journey.

Something tells me Twenty-Years-Ago-Madeleine would not have taken Today-Madeleine’s advice. Because when our work is so close to our heart, it simply does not feel like work.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t care for ourselves and look after our physical, mental and social health. We need that to produce our best work. And, well, yeah, to stay human.

It’s also hugely important to know that past a certain juncture, we’ll be able to enjoy some rest. Like being in the middle of an especially intense yoga class, and having the teacher drop the hint that soon enough we’ll be in Shavasana.

Having said that, I believe aspiring founders shouldn’t worry too much about working too hard. When things get tough to the point there is no enjoyment left, I like to think that’s when pivoting happens naturally. Otherwise, we should spend the bulk of our focus on the present moment, ride the wave of energy we are producing as we pour our heart out for the world to see, and deeply take in every minute of the experience.