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Work-Life Balance: Why Entrepreneurs Need Stillness

How to manage sensory overload and why entrepreneurs should just be still ... if even for a moment.

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Is it possible to function in information overload — when stimulation of your senses through technology, media devices, cars, gadgets, etc. simply become too much to handle? Sure.

But how long can you (or should you) operate in this state?

Did you know people with autism can get overstimulated and melt down right before your eyes?

I know. My son has autism. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times since my wife first said the A-word back on November 21, 2005, when Will was thirteen months old.

What does this have to do with you and your entrepreneurial awesomeness? More than you might suspect.

Assimilating in a “What’s Next” World

While I was putting him to bed the other night, I realized one more thing my son with a communication disorder can teach us about successful communication. Will likes me to lie with him until he falls asleep at night. It’s my favorite time of day, and it’s the best time for two things:

1. Interesting questions from him, like: “Daddy, do ducks and other animals get paid for living in zoos? ‘Cause it’s their job, you know.”
2. Enjoying the stillness.

We don’t have much of that anymore, do we? Stillness.

We’ve done it to ourselves – with tweets, smartphones, videos, blogs, texts, status updates and automatic notifications. Information is readily available. We’ve just assimilated and adjusted.

But it’s not that easy – in fact, it can be downright impossible – for those on the autism spectrum. Here’s Kristina DesJardins talking about how overstimulation affects her:

Autistic people, as you may have already heard, get overstimulated: the lights, the noises, the movement of people walking all around, etc.

So how does it feel to be autistic when you are overstimulated? It feels like: 20 cologne smells (all people around you are wearing different things, etc. Autistics smell all of it), like hundreds of kids running around you asking you questions in different languages, like you’re sitting in a chair that is missing one leg and trying to balance it while all that is going on, and lights flickering … too much, hence why autistics have Meltdowns.

Will’s team worked very hard, very early with him (and us) on desensitizing him to many of the things Kristina describes. And because my amazing wife and I intervened early, we were able to work on his much younger, more malleable psyche. But it’s still easy to see the physical manifestations of his overstimulation.

To see it in the rest of us, though? That’s not as easy.

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