Delegation is self-care and it’s important for your health!
It has taken me such a long time to get to this next blog. What can I say, life gets in the way? I have been wanting to write this blog since I started blogging. The reason being that I struggled so much with delegation when I started my own company. At first, I was too afraid to delegate and then, I started micromanaging. Then when I was ready to delegate, my staff was so dependent on my input, it was difficult for me to even take a day off from work, never mind going on holiday.
I only managed to take a full day off from my company after a year of starting it. One whole year! And even so, during that time off, I received numerous calls about how certain matters should be handled, which order must be delivered to which address and so many more disasters, including a customer that said her delivery had rotten cheese!!! Not true of course as we only made sure to deliver fresh produce and quality groceries. My point is, does it really count as a day off if I had to field unending calls about how to fix issues?
It is never healthy to work for over 12 hours every day of the week without taking time out for family and friends and to just do activities that improve your health and leave you feeling fulfilled. I was always late for gatherings with family and friends because I had to always do one more delivery before meeting them. It was crazy and I’m glad that they mostly kept up with my bullshit. It was time to make a change if I wanted a healthier lifestyle. I guess it’s true what they say, true change doesn’t happen in great measures overnight, it’s an aggregate of small changes over time that result in more visible changes.
The first step of ensuring my staff’s independence was making sure that they trusted their own judgment and didn’t have to call me for assistance with the most trivial of matters. They had to be able to make a call of substituting one brand for another without me holding their hands. This reduced my daily knocks on the door or calls by half! Next, I started working fewer hours at the shop and my team had to make more and more decisions independently, they only called me for more serious matters. This all took many months. But once my team and I got more comfortable with working independently, I didn’t hyperventilate every time I took some time off.
Thanks to this newfound rhythm, I was able to free up some time to do things that meant a lot to me such as volunteering at the Girls Fly Programme in Africa (GFPA) Foundation and traveling across South Africa to teach learners robotics and encourage them to take up careers in STEM. I love traveling so, as soon as I was able to take some real time off from the business, I went on a trip to Paris and Prague. It was my first holiday in over two years! I also started hiking a lot more and gardening. I was much happier than I had ever been since starting the company.
As an entrepreneur, I realised how precarious our mental health could be. We’re constantly worrying about something and filled with anxiety and sleepless nights. I had such a difficult time prioritising myself and my mental health, it was always business first and everything else came last. I was imploding and always thought I needed to portray that everything was okay for my staff and my customers. I was smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.
Why do we as entrepreneurs always feel the need to hide our failures, sadness, and angst and only talk about the successes? Personally, I kept the bad parts of entrepreneurship to myself because I didn’t want the naysayers to say “we told you not to leave your job and start a business!”. So, I always took the hits in silence. Nobody can continue like this for long, eventually, you cave. Before I self-destructed, I had to learn to take more time out for myself and work on my physical and mental health.
Delegation is not only great for improving efficiencies in a company, but also for your own wellbeing. It is easier to want to do something yourself because you have all the information, and you can achieve the result faster. However, in doing that, you’re cheating yourself out of a holistic life. Life is difficult for us entrepreneurs as it is, you must have coping mechanisms that make it easier to get through everyday life.
As entrepreneurs, we navigate our way through a lot of rough and unchartered territories, and in order to succeed, we need to fortify ourselves mentally and physically. Don’t wait until it’s too late, take time out to care for yourself and spend time with your loved ones.