Why Entrepreneurs Should Take Sick Days

We’ve all been there. Lying in bed thinking there is no way I can work today, I feel terrible, but some how we drag ourselves up, hop in the shower and convince ourselves that we have to go to work today because something just has to get done. Frequently once we are there, we aren’t productive and may even make bad decisions and of course we are spreading germs to the rest of our team.  Bottom line is health is the entrepreneurs number one asset and should be cared for and treated as such.

Following are excerpts  by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg from the May edition of Inc Magazine addressing this issue of taking sick days. To read the full article go to http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110501/meg-cadoux-hirshberg-why-entrepreneurs-should-take-sick-days.html

 Why Entrepreneurs Should Take Sick Days

Business owners strive to control their lives and fortunes—and then illness strikes, and everything falls apart.

By Meg Cadoux Hirshberg |  From the May 2011 issue of Inc. magazine

My mother always says there are problems, and then there are troubles. Problems are hard, but most can be solved. Troubles take you down. Sometimes they take you out.

Entrepreneurs are as vulnerable to disease as anyone else. I recently read an online article in which company owners listed characteristics essential to success. Good health was right up there: Many described themselves as people who “refuse to get sick.” Illness equates to weakness, which is antithetical to the entrepreneur’s self-image. He starts off defiant, but the disease wears him down. The body gives the spirit only so much autonomy.

Illness is the rudest awakening to the dream of entrepreneurial control. All those mechanisms meant to balance family and the business collapse. Priorities are reshuffled when instinct (must care for self/loved one!) rams into expediency (must preserve paramount financial and psychological investment!). The fear of losing everything is compounded by the fear of losing everything.

When it comes to being bad patients, doctors have nothing on entrepreneurs, who believe they can heal themselves the way they do everything else: by force of will. The business owner simply reframes her condition as another set of numbers to beat or an unexpected downturn that requires an aggressive response.

Others take advantage of the flexibility afforded by ownership to modify how they work. Such priority-reordering exercises often continue long after the entrepreneur or loved one has healed. And a reminder that fate can take it all away at any time. All we can do is keep building. Our businesses, we hope. Our lives, absolutely.

Meg Cadoux Hirshberg (mhirshberg@inc.com) Meg Cadoux Hirshberg is an editor for Inc. and writes a column titled Balancing Acts, about the impact of entrepreneurial businesses on families. She is married to Gary Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt.

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