Is it harder being taken or single?
The myth of work and life balance
It’s way harder for startup founders in Iran
If someone tries to give you the best prescription for work and life balance, don’t buy it! Its really just a myth, specially if you’re living in Iran. As the not so old but wise man Gary Vaynerchuk says,
“Work and life balance can be different for everybody.”
Everyone has to find their balance in life. It’s easy to read this but it was damn hard to write about. Following my several years of experience in the startup community, I guess work-life balance is all about finding what works best for you and what makes you ultimately happy. For some, working their face-off and hustling might do the trick, and for some relaxing on the sofa and watching Star Wars movies for the 100th time while eating spicy chicken and Thai sauce all day long. Thus, happiness must be the determining factor for either path for anyone who lives on planet earth (Haven’t got to believe in ET yet but love the movie for sure though!).
I’ve started mentoring young talents who are willing to take the early steps towards building a startup throughout the past two years. There are always two questions that most ask. The ones who are single ask how getting married or having a partner can affect their business and success. The ones who are taken, always strive to find the best work-life balance. I always point out and urge them to either be selective in choosing their partner or prepare themselves for the worst in case they fail to communicate effectively with their loved ones.
The truth is that entrepreneurs have to find a cadence that works best for them and their families. Therefore, If they’re so much eager to run a business, they have to consider bringing along someone who understands the risks and knows what they’re getting into, or in the best case scenario a person who intends to be their Co-founder. The people closest to you should believe in this path. If not, you have to try and talk to them and convince them to come along and trust you. Be transparent as possible since otherwise, I sincerely believe that you will fail.
Assume a startup founder in Canada or Europe. What challenges do they mostly face? If you start reading about this topic on the web, you’ll start to understand that it’s mostly related to capital and funds, planning, internal processes, business building, marketing, finding the right people, competitors, and so on. All of which the founders can learn to control, adapt and suppress the easy or the hard way.
But in Iran, as I mentioned on my previous post titled “Ridiculously hard and complex”, the story is quite different. So you might ask what this has to do with work and life balance? As Aaron Batalion puts it,
“The best startup teams consistently focus on the known unknowns, which is a mountain you know you have to climb, but you haven’t yet found the path.”
Iranian entrepreneurs are always struggling in the Unknown Unknown path and thus, apart from business and climbing that mountain towards their path to success, they also have to cope with challenges that they have no clue when, how, or why will happen. For instance, when Digital Ocean decided to apply Iran sanctions, they notified Iranian customers and gave them 72 hours to move their servers or GitHub started to block Iranian developers by their nationality back in 2019. Again without prior notice and without providing a way to backup data. Add to this, the Unknown Unknowns coming from Iranian government institutions or the parliament right at the entrepreneurs face such as the sudden increase in wages or the passing of laws that lead to the increase in e.g. internet costs.
Rumsfeld states (see here):
Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.
Researches have shown an association between work–life imbalance and stress responses. Work–life balance may vary based on the work environment, political and social context, and economic context (1). Being constantly exposed to the Unknown Unknown situation has had a determining effect on the work-life balance of Iranian youths who are trying hard to build a business and family, fight the risks, and provide a sustainable income for the upcoming future.
Leineweber et al. (2) showed that men’s and women’s emotional exhaustion is negatively affected by work-family conflict. Considering the circumstances in which entrepreneurs in Iran are building their startups and business, some mentioned above; If you tend to start a family alongside this path, you have to make sure to choose the right companion. A person who thrives in all this ambiguity. A person who tends to build, nurture and grow a business alongside you. Balancing work and life all depends on what you want and what makes you happy, but its tough in Iran anyways; all alone or along with a soul mate.
Tell me after you read this, which one would you prefer? To go along the line alone or with someone you love?
Write to me or set up a 30-minute meeting if you feel to talk more about this.
Hope you’re rocking your world guys. Check this Instagram page for beautiful pictures of Iran. Btw, follow the ones who have inspired me to write this story:
My calendar: https://calendly.com/dr-mbarkhordari/30min