I talked to a friend of mine last week who is also self-employed. Like me, she has no employees. So everything depends on her. She told me that she had been sick on-off for a month now. But she didn't feel that it was okay to let the customers down and tell them she had some days off. So she kept on working and feeling sick. This is something I hear a bit too much.
Also I red this book about dangerous management (Livsfarlig Ledelse af Christian Ørsted). It is from 2013, so maybe some things have changed since. Even though I am afraid it have not. It had some crazy facts to be told. The most scary one was that it stated that WHO predicts stress to be the greatest threat to the public health of the western world. Furthermore WHO predicted that in 7 years 50% of all deaths will be "stress related" in some way. I mean wtf!
Also the book informed that Danes are some of the most loyal employees in the world. It makes us go to work even when we are sick. We do that, the book says, according to a great sense of community and the fear of letting our colleagues down. When we swallow pain killers and keep on going to work without listening to our bodies, it obviously makes the risk of infecting your co-workers much higher and in that way we keep on infecting each other.
I did the same thing when I had a full-time job. I wanted to show everyone that I would go really far for this company. Therefore I went to work when I was sick.
It is stupid of course.
It got me thinking about how I take care of myself, while running my business.
For me the key word is balance. I definitely want to go really far for my customers. But I also want to be running my own business in 5 or 10 years.
I see so many newly started entrepreneurs that burn out, simply because they work too hard and totally shut down the connection to their body. In many entrepreneur communities it is idolized to work your ass of. Having no sleep, drinking 40 cups of coffee and working 70 hours a week. I am no judge, people can do whatever the fuck they want.
But one thing is clear. Everyone can become sick of stress.
Too often I hear people with stress saying "I'm shocked, I thought this could never happen to me". As if they were a stronger species and stess only happens to the "weak" ones...
So in the end, "working your ass off" and ignoring your body can be the reason why you have to let go of your entrepreneurial dream. What a shame.
When I feel the first signs of sickness I postphone appointments and make sure that my calendar is not overbooked (I try to never overbook it). I pamper myself a bit. Maybe I work from the cough with a warm blanket. If I get tired I take a nap. I drink a lot of tea. I listen to my body and I only take painkillers if it is absolutely necessary. I try not to think of the sickness as a bad thing. But more like a opportunity to take good care of myself. It's a way of showing myself that I respect myself.
Of course sometimes there is a deadline that I have to meet. But most of my assignments can be postponed and my clients always understands this. They just tell me to get well soon.
If I should experience clients that dosen't give a fuck about me being sick, but just want their shit to be done, I would ask them kindly to find another graphic designer to work with. I only want to work with clients that are human and in a customer relationship that foster compassion. If that is not possible, I will go back to cleaning houses for a living.