Riding a new way


Riding a bike is a lot like running a business. You learn to do it gradually, it's fun, there's freedom, but as you become more advanced you also become more fixated on advancing.

This analogy has never been truer than today, where countless apps and measuring devices are available to access your personal metrics on the bike and in your business.

It seemed like the more I got into cycling, the more I got into reading the numbers until at a point I found myself staring at the tiny screen on the handlebars instead of the open road ahead of me. I would be asking myself constantly, what's my heart rate, or what kind of power am I putting out? Instead of realizing how beautiful the ocean over my shoulder was or feeling the wind on my face, I was in a perpetual race with myself.

I came to the conclusion that more and more metrics, which all seem to focus on measuring people's performance or the money of the business, is actually hindering our collective ability to be mindful and in the moment. Anything distracting from what is going on around and within us has the ability to wreak havoc on the overall user experience of life.

So that was it, I had enough. This spring I threw out the power meter.

By taking the time to be mindful, to really be in the moment, my confidence has increased and surprisingly, my power too. It's natural, you get better the more you practice, but I found that while I wasn't staring at the numbers all day, and instead spent my time being mindful of the task at hand, I improved quicker than If I had been tracking my minute-to-minute progress.

Just an idea but maybe it is better to take the power meter off the bike and just enjoy the ride.

Obsessing over the metrics wasn't working

Based on my realization that religiously tracking the metrics is not the key to happiness, Bluteau-DeVenney is undergoing important changes.

The main drive to change has been all about making the business personal to me. In the past, the business focused on the financial results, but this approach, over the course of a few decades, not only lost meaning for me but also damaged my health. 

In dealing with my own experiences with mental health, I came to understand how prevalent depression and anxiety amongst entrepreneurs really was. I found out that I was not alone in this, indeed, entrepreneurs, it seems, have a special propensity for anxiety.

After working through my afflictions I came to believe that my struggle with mental health was not a curse but rather a gift. This mindset shift encouraged me to take what I had learned and apply this newfound knowledge to building a system to help other entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar situations (that being more or less all of us).

In the past, I played the game of long hours, and doing whatever I could do to grow. What I see now is that I gave up my life for the growth of the company and in the end it all came crashing down on me anyways. I'm lucky enough to now be in a position to press reset. This time I'm going to do it right, and that starts with creating a role that is perfectly suited for me.

Any more than full time is a hard time

The role I want is a combination of passion, purpose and ability.

I'm now building the business to do what I think is right and is meaningful for me. Although I may raise funding along the way it will always be in the pursuit of what is meaningful to me.

I will no longer let the numbers drive me. I want to be an example that you can work less than 40 hours a week and still be financially successful. As well as having greater well-being.

And I'm not alone in feeling this way, according to our research and corroborated by others', approximately 68 percent of entrepreneurs will have some destructive form of mental health episode throughout their working life.

The nature of business building attracts people prone to anxiety and, at the same time, has a tendency to cause anxiety in those same entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs, in general, are stressed out under the weights of over-commitment, unrealistic expectations, and increasing pressures (inside and out). And, interestingly, the second hand effect of entrepreneurship is extremely alarming as well.

Preliminary research conducted by Michael Freeman, MD, of the University of California Berkeley, found that some 50 percent of entrepreneurs with any form of mental health concern report to have, or has had, a first-degree relative show, or be diagnosed with, a mental health illness. What are we doing to the people around us?!

Mental health in business is an incredibly far-reaching and wicked problem, but it can be solved with common sense solutions.

Big changes are in the works at Bluteau-DeVenney and I'm proud to finally be excited (and at the same time, relaxed) about what the future holds. My business is going to be run in a way that cherishes the mindset of the person over the product that person puts in the market.

After all, what is success without the positive well-being to enjoy it?