Whose Hustle Are You Living?
IN THE HOSPITAL
These were the entrepreneurial phrases flowing through my head as I lay in a hospital bed in the emergency room.
I had thought I was having a heart attack and now my wife was sitting beside me looking like a mixture of worry and slight frustration.
It wasn’t a surprise why I had ended up here.
An hour earlier I had been heaving over a toilet in our home’s upstairs bathroom, vomiting what were the last drops of liquid in my digestive track.
It was black.
“Bile,” I had thought to myself in between the heaves and involuntary tears I was squeezing out.
“Great. I’m now vomiting bile.”
I had been this sick once before in my life (after an unusual case of salmonella that involved a trip to the ocean and the Alabama Department of Health informing me I had a rare strain never seen before) - and I knew that bile coming through my mouth was a bad sign of the dehydration my body was experiencing.
As I literally crawled to my home office after my less-than-joyful trip to the restroom I clumped into a pile in the middle of the floor.
“If I can just make it through the next few hours I’ll be able to keep something down and in me,” I thought foolishly.
When the chest pains started a few minutes later, accompanied by numbness in my hands and severe pain in my jaw, I knew that maybe the next few hours weren’t going to be as easy as I wanted.
My grandfather had four heart attacks with the final one ending his life just two years prior. His father, my great grandfather, died of heart disease. And my father had his first heart attack at the age of 28…
Despite regularly low blood pressure of 100/60 and a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute, I was not beyond the understanding of what was in my biological makeup.
So as my jaw clenched and my chest tightened on my office floor I suddenly became very aware of what could be happening.
Thirty minutes later later I was being asked by a friendly nurse if I could remove my shirt myself to get an EKG.
As three nurses and a doctor looked at the squiggle of lines being emitted on a small machine the words kept running through my head.
I was snapped out of it when I caught the obvious signs of relief on the medical staff’s faces.
“Your heart appears fine Mr. Way,” said the doctor as he smiled, “but you’re not 100% okay,” he continued as he put his hand on my shoulder. He then went on to explain that my body was severely dehydrated and proceeded to ask me how long I had been sick.
I gave textbook answers.
I told him about the number of times my body had expelled things that day. The fever. The chills. The cramps. My eventual moment of shock on my bedroom floor when I realized I might be in more serious trouble than a “stomach bug”.
“Well it’s good you came in. We’re going to take care of you and get you some liquids and some pain medicine immediately.” The doctor gave me a small squeeze on the shoulder and then started directing different nurses to different duties.
What I left out though from my answers to the doctor is exactly how I had ended up so sick.
I didn’t mention that I’d only slept 6 hours over a four day period, how multiple business clients had asked for extra work over the previous weekend, or how personally my family was going through a very stressful time.
And I didn’t note the irony of the fact that I’d gotten so sick while wearing a hoodie from Startup Drugz which has printed proudly on the front:
9-5 IS FOR THE WEAK
I failed to mention the fact that working beyond the 9-5 had actually made me weak, and my body was reacting in the only way it knew how to make me stop working:
By Making Me Rest
IN MY BUSINESS
The last couple of years have been amazing both personally and professionally.
At my wife’s urging I stepped away from corporate life and career ambitions and started my own business.
Through ups, downs, and countless lessons we’ve had the greatest year of our lives in many ways.
But, like all things, it has come with a cost.
My daily schedule Monday through Friday looked a little something like this:
8 AM - 1 PM Work
1 PM - 2 PM Lunch
2 PM - 5 PM Work
5 PM - 7 or 8 PM Time With Family
7 or 8 PM - 12 or 1 AM Work
Five days a week, week in and week out, with Sunday night usually involving what could be considered a nearly full 7 hour workday at time.
With approximately 50% of my client base on the other side of the world it makes it easy to talk to Europe early in the morning, North Americans during regular business hours, and the Aussies and Kiwis each night.
Despite the hectic schedule though I’ve also taken more off days, small vacations, and enjoyed life more than ever before.
“I live and die by my Google Calendar,” is a phrase which has gone from a somewhat serious jest to an absolute certain fact. So much so that I’ve sent close personal friends to an online scheduling link to book 20 minutes of time with me recently just so we could catch up like regular people.
Social pressure and self induced goals have demanded a stretch of myself, my time, my limits, and my hustle.
Yes, I’ve taken three days off this year just to binge watch Netflix. I have the pleasure of doing so because I do have my own business. But generally TV isn’t my thing at all unless I’m responding to emails and still actually working in the background.
Even when “resting” I’ve still been working.
It’s been a delicate balance of mindfulness and meditation in the mornings to then pushing myself beyond all mental, emotional, and even physical limits to grow each day.