Let’s face it. All of us want to think of ourselves as being emotionally well-adjusted.
But even for someone in a low-stress job, every day has its little ups and downs that affect us emotionally.
For a PPC agency owner, these emotional ups and downs are on steroids.
There’s an explanation for this, and I’ll give you the (very much watered down) version.
Recently, I read a book called “The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness”, by Professor Steve Peters.
In the introduction, Peters explains that your brain is made up of three major parts:
- The Human. This is the part of your brain that learns through logic and facts, so it acts rationally.
- The Chimp. This is a personality completely independent of your Human, though they try to work together. The Chimp is capable of making decisions. It offers us thoughts and feelings that can either be constructive or very destructive. It’s the Chimp that controls your fight, flight or freeze impulses.
- The Computer. This is the storage centre for your thoughts and behaviours. Your Human and your Chimp feed into this Computer constantly. Your Computer uses all this information to either act on automatic pilot, or as a string of reference points.
When people hear about the Chimp, they think that’s the “bad” part of their brain. This is not the case. The Chimp is neither good nor bad, it’s just a chimp. Without your Chimp, you wouldn’t be capable of feeling emotions like love, happiness or excitement. And, the more you try to repress your Chimp, the stronger it gets.
The 9-5 Job
When people work a typical 9-5 job, the emotional Chimp doesn’t get that much exercise (unless you really hate your colleagues). You’re in a well-established routine, so you know what to do and, for the most part, you feel safe and secure.
You’re not responsible for any massive decisions, as they all have to go through your boss. Unless you have some crazy weekends, you know nothing is going to alter from day to day drastically.
Even if you’re worried about being fired, you know it’s not going to happen overnight. There are usually enough warning signs for you to get your Human and Chimp working together (i.e. find another job, quickly).
Running Your Own PPC Agency
When running a PPC agency, or any other small business, your Human and your Chimp are both in overdrive.
Your Human is very active because it has to use logic, skills and facts to get you through the day. Without having a firm grasp of these, you wouldn’t be where you are now.
Your Chimp, though, is running wild. Entrepreneurship is full of situations where your Chimp will have to make the fight, flight and freeze decisions. And these situations happen daily.
Think about it…
The Emotional Downs
Your very survival depends on your business. Okay, so you won’t drop dead if something goes wrong. But the mortgage depends on however much you bring home that month. As does food on the table. If you’re new to the game, you probably also owe someone, somewhere, more than a few thousand pounds.
You’ve made promises too, whether they be to your partner, or your parents, friends, children. You’ve promised that this business will bring them a certain kind of lifestyle.
And you’re working yourself into the ground. The only reason why this business is here is because of you. If you stop working, even for a day, everything is going to fall to bits. And if the business fails, you’ve failed. But if you don’t take the time off you sorely need, the business is going to fail anyway because you’ll burn out.
Your Chimp picks up on all of this, and everything becomes a WORST CASE SCENARIO. You’ll beat yourself up for every little mistake. You’ll beat yourself up for things beyond your control. January is usually a great month for sales, but February isn’t so good. Your Chimp will twist this to mean that it’s your fault that February was a bad month.
After all, Coca Cola doesn’t sell fewer cans and bottles during February, do they? (Or maybe they do, I don’t know).
Tie this in with the fact that 80% of being an entrepreneur is dealing with stuff you know nothing about and did not expect. You can see why your fight, flight and freeze responses are racing up and down your body like ants over a walnut whip.
The Emotional Ups
To torture a well-known phrase to breaking point, whatever goes down must come up (and then back down, and then back up to the power of infinity).
There are going to be some weeks when you’ll absolutely smash it. Logically speaking, you’ve been working hard, so your Human is going to be happy. It’s going to take down some notes on what went right this week, and how it came about, then feed this info into your Computer.
If your Human is happy, your Chimp is going to be ecstatic. Expect to have thoughts like “I’ve finally cracked the code, so nothing will ever go wrong again”. Your Chimp will also feed its info into your Computer.
But while your Chimp harbours grievances to the grave, it gets over highs pretty quickly. It wants to feel the same again, so it wants you to do more. Your Chimp is never going to be satisfied. It has an idea that you’ll achieve total, eternal happiness, as long as you do “the next big thing”.
It’s like dangling a carrot in front of a racehorse to get it to win the race. It’ll win the Derby, get the carrot, be happy for five seconds, then think “hey, is that it?” It feels that if it wins more races, there will be One Supreme Carrot… making every carrot from then on “just a carrot”.
See? It’s not healthy.
Everyone Has A Chimp
Even though this is a simplified way of looking at the human brain, every single person feels emotional highs and lows like this.
There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no way of controlling your Chimp. If you tried to control an over-excited chimp in real life, you’d get a black eye for your trouble.
However, you can manage your Chimp and get it working in better tandem with your Human.
The worst thing you can do is tell yourself you shouldn’t be feeling the way you are. Trying to directly rationalise with feelings such as passion, anger and fear is going to make them build up until they let themselves out in other, unfairer ways. E.g. shouting at your dog for getting under your feet, even though Fido is just happy to see you.
Instead, next time you feel angry, claim that feeling. Sit there and let that Chimp rage around in your head for as long as it needs. It’ll soon tire itself out. When it’s flopped into a corner, exhausted, then the Human can approach and start talking rationally.
Ask yourself why you felt the way you felt, entirely without judgement. If it helps, take out a pen and start jotting down some notes. Once you’ve got a solid grasp on why you feel about certain situations the way you do, you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll become at managing your emotions.
And because your Chimp won’t feel repressed but, rather, understood, it’s going to be a lot more compliant come future stressful situations. This simple act of mindfulness will soon reflect in your super-charged performance and well-being.
There are other ways to make sure you become a Zen-like master too. Here are 7 of my favourites.
Get Enough Exercise
Ugh, I know. When doctors say that exercise can cure anything from depression to cancer, it’s hard not to roll your eyes and stay firmly planted behind your desk.
But, annoyingly, these doctors are right. As well as weight control and combating health conditions, exercise gives your mood a much-needed lift.
It’s easy to forget, because I don’t know anyone sweating buckets on a treadmill, gasping for breath, who thinks “I love this”. The good feelings come after the hard work, with various brain chemicals leaving you happier, more relaxed and less anxious.
As you get stronger, you’ll have more energy too. 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, means your cardiovascular system will work more efficiently.
Find an activity you particularly enjoy, and stick with it. If the dopamine and serotonin levels start to fade after a couple of weeks, up your session to 40 minutes.
At the very least, you can feel smug. Up to 37% of people in the UK don’t exercise at all, while only 7% are regularly active.
While We’re On It, Get Enough Sleep
Some PPC agency owners seem to have the same attitude as hardcore partiers: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.
Except hardcore partiers only need the ability to drink beer and shuffle to “Get Low” ft. The Yin Yang Twins.
You need to do stuff that matters. Sleep helps out with aspects of brain function such as cognition, concentration, productivity, performance and memory. So, all the essential stuff.
Getting your 8 hours also means you’ll be less grumpy during the day, with a greater ability to recognise the emotions of others and follow social cues. 90% of people with depression and anxiety complain that “lack of sleep” is one of their roadblocks to happiness.
If all that wasn’t enough, lack of sleep can also make you:
- Disinterested in exercise
- Have a greater risk of heart attack or stroke
And, despite common myths floating around the internet, getting 4 hours one night and 12 hours the next does not balance out to 8 hours a night.
Switch off your phones, turn off the telly, and give yourself an hour before bed to let go of your distractions. One week of 7-8 hours’ sleep a night can see a massive leap in your work performance.
Read Books and Listen To Podcasts
Alec Baldwin said in Glengarry Glen Ross, “always be closing.”
I’m going to change things up a bit and say, “always be learning.”
See, the day you stop learning is the day you stop succeeding. Reading is the best way of learning quickly, with minimum risk involved. We speak about entrepreneurship as if everything has to be an uphill battle – and a lot of it is. But many books and podcasts on the market let their readers stand on the shoulders of giants. I.e., the creator talks about the mistakes they made to prevent the reader from doing the same.
Obviously, you can’t read any old trash if you want to become a leader in your field. As much as I liked it, Stephen King’s Misery taught me nothing beyond “don’t drink and drive” (a solid lesson, to be fair). So, when selecting your reading material, make sure it’s books that other business owners read.
Successful people like Dan Lok and Gary Vaynerchuk are always recommending books on Facebook and LinkedIn. You should check them out.
If you feel like your capacity to learn is closed for the day, use books and podcasts for inspiration. A biography may not teach you much in the way of actual skills, but they can help PPC agency owners find ideas, encouragement and motivation for their work.
Buy A Course
This is along the same lines as reading books or listening to podcasts. Investing in a course proves a commitment to lifelong learning.
Experiential learning (or learning by doing) is demanding, but it’s also effective. Investing in a course also means you’ll get more instruction than if you strike out and try to learn a new skill on your own.
Learning by doing also gets you out of a mindset created by reading too many books. Sometimes, people get so caught up on the “chalk and talk” method of learning, they’re too scared to take action. They think they’ll make a mistake, or they haven’t learned enough, or they’ll get started after “one more book”.
This kind of attitude can seriously hinder your progress. In the digital day and age, we have so many tools available to us, so many ways to share content, and thousands of ways to build a business. If you get caught up on one thing, or refuse to venture further afield until you feel “confident”, you’re going to get left behind.
And never think you “can’t learn anything more”. The world’s top influencers regularly borrow ideas off one another and see great results. Always invest in your education, even if it’s just a $500 course that takes less than a week.
Get A Mentor
The quickest way to accumulate wealth is to invest in self-development.
Plenty of PPC agency owners think they can build an empire on their own. However, the reality is, they’re too close to their own project. Agency owners who carry the whole burden of their business on their backs seem to run into far more walls than the people who ask for help.
Think about the heroes in great fiction books. Harry Potter defeated the darkest wizard of all time. Frodo (by accident, granted) destroyed the ring. Mowgli bested Shere Khan using fire.
However, none of these heroes worked alone. All of them had mentors (or multiple mentors!) in the shape of Dumbledore, Gandalf, Bagheera and Baloo. Without mentors, these characters would have been so consumed by their own desires, flaws and obstacles, they would have never made it to the other side.
Mentors see where we need to improve far better than we can. They’re also famous for not pulling any punches, telling you how it is rather than pandering to your weaknesses. Constructive criticism can often be hard to hear (no, Chimp, they’re not attacking you), but it’s the only way you’ll grow.
My mentor is James Schramko at Silver Circle. He’s a business coach, and he helps set me straight. If I’m worried about 10 things, he’ll distil them down to the three most important that need immediate action. I can’t begin to tell you how useful this is.
If you don’t want to pay for a mentor, make sure you have a friend or family member you can talk to. Sometimes, all it takes is an outside perspective.
Learn To Focus
This is a tough one for anyone out there, never mind PPC agency owners.
It’s also really obvious. And, because it’s so obvious, it often gets overlooked.
Everyone has tasks on their list they’d rather not do. As we fill our time with distractions – Facebook, emails, other tasks – the goalposts move further and further down the field.
20% of people are chronic procrastinators. By procrastinating for longer, they hope the issue will “go away”. When it doesn’t, they subject themselves to a hell of a lot of stress and pressure, pushing themselves to get the job done before the big deadline.
And what do stress and pressure do? They take away from all the lifestyle choices I’ve spoken about in this post. You won’t have time to exercise, you’ll lose sleep, you’ll have wasted precious hours you could have used for educational reading or cracking on with a course.
If you find yourself procrastinating on something, ask yourself why. Is it because it’ll be easier to do tomorrow (i.e. you have some even more pressing tasks to do today), or because you don’t want to do it?
If it’s the latter, put it at the top of your To-Do List right now. Set yourself an hour (or two, or three) and just get it done. That way, you’ll never have to think about doing it ever again.
If it’s a massive task, get out a pen and paper and break it down into manageable chunks. You’ll still know what the end result has to look like, but you’ll also have a much clearer picture of what you need to do.
Yep, delaying relaxation for too long is detrimental to your mental health, your physical health AND your work ethic.
If you’ve ever come home from work and found yourself watching four hours straight of reality TV, there’s a simple explanation for that. Basically, your brain needed it. No brain can’t run at 100%, 100% of the time. So, if you’re always trying to reach your peak, you’ll find yourself flatlining pretty quickly.
Indicators of an exhausted mind include:
- Intense fatigue
- Hi-jacked creativity
- Less enjoyment in your hobbies and interests
- Caring about Gemma and Arg in The Only Way Is Essex
Instead of working so hard your “relaxation time” is dropping, exhausted, in front of some crummy television programme, manage your social life constructively.
Humans are social animals, and we can only appease this trait with some real face-to-face contact. Have a family day, have some friends over, join a new club. If your closest relationships are those with your laptop and phone, it’s time for a serious rethink.
Socialise effectively, and you’ll find the positives streak right through your business. 64% of people in the UK said that time off made them “refreshed and excited to get back on the job”. Another 57% said that a break gave them “brand new business perspectives and increased pride in their accomplishments.”
Relaxing and socialising won’t only benefit you. Your employees will sense a shift in your emotional outlook, and be inspired by your new, improved attitude. (Or relieved that you’ve stopped yelling). Company culture will flourish as a result.
Learning how to manage – not control! – your Chimp is one of the key ways to achieve growth personally and in your business.
The more you train your mind, the less it will feel like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. Accept that we have emotions, feel them, and then implement one of these techniques.
And remember – emotions aren’t the bad guys. They’re signals that let us know if something is right or wrong. Learn to work with them, and you’ll find that life isn’t all up-hill struggles and blundering about in the dark.