The traits that make entrepreneurs successful in business are the same traits that cause challenges in relationships.
A lot of people assume that the divorce rate is higher among entrepreneurs because of the time and energy running a business demands. That’s partially true, but if we only try and “fix” the time we spend running the business, we may miss a crucial opportunity to become holistically better for our loved ones. In other words, we can be completely disciplined to staying present to family on nights and weekends, but if we don’t pay attention to the bigger picture, we may still be causing unnecessary challenges in our relationships.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve been coaching entrepreneurs since 2004. In 2010, I began having more attention on the role of the spouse, and throughout this time, I’ve confirmed that a supportive spouse can make or break a business, and a self-aware entrepreneur can make or break a relationship. I’ve also noticed a critical blindspot most entrepreneurs struggle with in their personal relationships. And that is…
The traits that help them be fantastic business owners, can be a real challenge in our personal relationships.
If you consider other traits that make people successful entrepreneurs, you might think of traits like:
- Great Delegators
- Risk Taker
As you can imagine, those traits can be real powerhouses in business- but they can show up differently at home.
So if we’re passionate in business we can be emotional at home.
If we’re well connected in business, we can be spread too thin at home.
Innovation in business can show up as chaos at home.
Great delegators in business? Lazy at home.
Being competitive in a business is great. Being competitive in a relationship? Not so much!
And while being a risk taker in a business is necessary, if your partner doesn’t match your risk tolerance, that can be a recipe for disaster.
If you’re an entrepreneur AND in a relationship or looking for love, I have 5 tips I’d like to suggest to help you strike business & relationship gold!
1) First, identify the qualities that have helped you build a successful business, then see if you can identify how they might be working against you. Often, anytime we take any of our strengths too far, we can get into trouble. So before anything else, build awareness around which qualities might need some reigning in.
2) Raise the Floor. This is a concept Nic Peterson talks about in his book Bumpers. I’ve applied this concept to our own behavior as it helps us stop making excuses like “that’s just the way I am”. That fixed mindset thinking can keep us repeating cycles of broken relationships. Raising the floor of our behavior acknowledges that there is room for growth, without feeling like we have to change completely.
3) Consider the compliment-to-criticisim ratio between you and your spouse. Are you guys complimenting each other more, or criticising? If you two have become more critical of one another, try focusing on offering more intentional compliments or praise to your partner and see if they follow suit. Often, the traits that initially attract us to our partner become our annoyances later on, so see if you can get back in touch with all the great qualities your partner has. We go into this extensively in my online course, and if this is an area you and your partner could use some support with, we’d love to have you join us in our next group. You can click the link below for more information.
4) Build in some buffer time between work and home. This might mean taking the scenic route home to fully decompress. If you work from home, it might mean a workout or a walk between work and family time to help shift gears. And, for an optimal transition, as soon as you get home or finish working for the day- go find your spouse or partner, go up to them, wherever they are in the house, and give them a squeeze. A proper hug that lasts for 6 seconds. A 6 second hug will help sync up your central nervous systems to help get you aligned at the end of the day, rather than feeling like worlds are colliding.
5) Have a code word for when you might unknowingly be inching toward the danger zone. My partner and I use the word Chopsticks. See, as a coach, one of my superpowers is that I can identify when one of my clients isn’t being fully honest or aware about their circumstances. I have these zinger questions that help them pivot their thinking to see more options. As a coach, that’s a great quality! But for people who aren’t expecting or even interested in being coached, that’s a real turn off. We first encountered this on one of early dates. We were out for sushi and we had covered a lot of territory on our first few dates, but, per usual, I wanted to go deeper. As we sat at our table and the dinner progressed, my questions got more and more pointed. Finally, he looked up at me and said, “I don’t really know? I haven’t thought about a lot of this before, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I’m just not sure I want to answer all these right now”. I LOVED that he held that boundary and so right there at the table, I looked down at the chopsticks in his hands and said, “Deal! I totally get it, and from now on, anytime I go too far, you can just say ‘chopsticks’ and I’ll stand down.” To this day, we still use that strategy when we have guests over and he can tell I’m getting ready to strike and start peppering people with questions.
I hope you’ve found a few pearls of wisdom in our time together. And, watch for my next YouTube video when I cover the crucial role of the spouse and how to build a marriage that functions as a three-legged race!