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Ignore Successful People. You Should Burn Yourself Out

You always hear people who have “made it” telling you not to do what they did and to take care of your fitness and your mental health. “Don’t burn out, don’t work too hard”. That is total and utter bullshit. 

Look, in the early days of a startup or getting a career off the ground, you have an abundance of two things:

  • Time
  • Energy

Those two things are going to be the resources you need to get to where you need to be. You will need to do a lot to make yourself successful. Learning hard skills (technical stuff), soft skills (people stuff), and everything in between.

You’ll also need a shitload of luck and timing to be on your side. 

When we built Better Proposals, I’m pretty confident that if we'd built it a year before, I would have been trying to make an online proposal tool based on a sheet of paper. We would have been about the 5th company trying to do that. Might have succeeded, but it wouldn’t have been special.

If we’d started a few years later we’d have been 2nd in the race to build the first proposal tool that was web first, paper second. Again, might have succeeded, but being second isn’t as good as being first.

So, you’re going to need your luck, but you sort of can’t control that. 

What you can control is your effort.

You will hear people who have made it tell you to meal prep, get eight hours sleep a night, go to the gym, and make sure to take breaks and spend time with your friends. 

Sorry, but fuck that. 

It’s amazing how quickly people forget what made them successful in the first place. It’s easy to look back and say: “Yeah, in hindsight, I didn’t need to work so hard, I would have got there anyway”. No, you wouldn’t. 

And you can’t possibly know that on the way up. 

Stop listening to people who are sitting at a vantage point you don’t have, telling you that you don’t need to work as hard or to not do the things they did.

I know that I built this business because I burned myself out from time to time, found my levels, and figured out how I work best. I could only do that because I pushed myself to the limits. 

Once, I read an article that Vegas hotels remove the ability to see what time it is so people stay awake and gamble more. So I removed all the clocks and anything that could tell me the time and just worked for 30 days straight. I slept when I was tired and worked when I wasn’t.

I moved mountains that month. Was it healthy? Probably not. But I probably got more done than anyone in the country and that contributed to where I am today.

So, in summary, work as hard as your energy levels will allow you to, then go further than that. Find your level, figure out how you work, and ignore anyone who tells you to take time off, work less, and not burn out. 

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Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.