Entrepreneurs aren’t resting enough

by | Aug 18, 2023 | Business Lessons, Chapter Six, Co-Creation, Self Sabotage | 0 comments

That’s hardly a newsflash


But what is newsworthy is that as high performers, we’re typically not resting enough in so many different ways that accumulate to create perpetual exhaustion and it’s leading to burn out. It’s not just a sleep thing, it’s a whole way of being thing. 

In the past couple of weeks alone, I’ve had this conversation with at least 20 women and the consensus is that not only are we not resting enough, many of us don’t know how to rest. We don’t know how to just be and not do

If that’s you, it’s not your fault.


Our world has been constructed to condition us from childhood to believe that we have to achieve to deserve, which we internalise to mean that if we don’t have something it’s down to our own moral failings and lack of (the right) action. We’re literally measured on how we do doing rather than recognised for the unique, diverse, wonderful beings that we just are. Everything from maths tests, to sports tryouts, to job interviews reinforce that message over and over again until it becomes like polished black ice: invisible and deadly.  

So where can you start, if you want to make a difference in your experience of being a whole being in business, not just “doing business,” in this busy world when you’re already exhausted just thinking about it? 

In her TEDx talk, Saundra Dalton-Smith offers the beginnings of an answer. She identifies 7 kinds of rest that we all need and describes them as follows:

  1. Passive rest (sleep);
  2. Active rest (e.g. yoga);
  3. Sensory rest (e.g. switching all the screens off and quitting the multi-tasking);
  4. Mental rest (e.g. taking proper breaks and clocking out at a decent time);
  5. Creative rest (e.g. seeing natural wonders and works of art that inspire you);
  6. Emotional rest (e.g. being emotionally held and supported in ways that allow sharing your full range of emotions rather than putting on a show for others and feeling able to say no to others);
  7. Social rest (e.g. taking a break from people and situations that exhaust you, and making time for ones that rejuvenate you); and
  8. Spiritual rest (doing something that feels greater than yourself, and meditation/prayer).

Immediately two things are apparent 


  1. Rest is multifaceted and more complex than just “get more sleep”; and
  2. These still aren’t all the kinds of rest we need. 

Let’s take that second point. How can we be sure this isn’t all of the rests? Because she’s the expert, right? 

Research and interpretation is always created from inside the framework of what already exists. Every society has specific lenses it maintains that provide collective filters for looking at the world. Those filters lend themselves to specific kinds of questions and answers and easily overlook others that don’t fit within our cultural reality. Every researcher is already indoctrinated not only to see through those filters; they have become the living embodiment of the filter. Even if the researcher breaks the fourth wall and, effectively sees into the matrix of their cultural reality, along comes a reporter and they then put it back again, by picking up the “most interesting parts of the story” which is already culturally predetermined to be “what has been proven before to see stories.” The full picture never trickles down, because every time it’s filtered (including when we read things ourselves and filter them through our existing beliefs etc), the bits that don’t fit our current reality are inevitably filtered out, whether intentionally or through lack of understanding, difficulty remembering, or difficulty implementing over time… 

For an easily accessible example of this, whether you believe in them or not, (that’s a filter already) the Western world is widely familiar with a seven energy centre system (chakras) of the human body. However, trace the chakras back to their cultures of origin and there are way more than seven. Sometimes it’s 12, but sometimes it’s dozens, hundreds or even into the thousands. What is crucial to note, is that the West adopted the chakras that best fit existing understandings of what it is to be in the world; meaning that the ones around survival of the fittest made the cut, but a lot of the spiritual centres did not. 

Note then, that nature features only once in the list above, as part of creative rest. But research shows over and over again that our time in nature matters profoundly. We are, after all, nature. We’re not somehow separate. From Ingrid Fettel Lee’s Joyful to Richard Louve’s Vitamin N, there is a resounding cry for spending more time outdoors that’s overlooked, when we only look at what is immediately in front of us as relevant. 

How can we use this information to get better rest? 


Let’s reverse engineer the process by first looking at systems via their internal relationships, rather looking at them through the pre-existing lens. This means foregoing all assumptions and using a relational-material approach to allow one aspect of a belief system to shed light on another, over and over until a picture is built up about how the pieces co-create one another. In this context, “what kind of rest we need” is a belief system. We call on subjects like archaeology and anthropology. These have so much potential to contribute to our understanding of what we are- by looking at how different cultures experience the world, we can discover more of what we all are and what we all need. 

Doing this over and over and then, overlaying what emerges can create a bigger picture than looking at one society, at one point in time. 

So what is the conversation with my clients then?


It’s more nuanced. We had active and passive rest, now let’s look at the other pieces with that in mind: 

  • Passive sensory rest (e.g. switching all the screens off and quitting the multi-tasking) 
  • Active sensory rest (e.g. Hygge, celebrating the joy of texture, colour, shape, sensation offered by natural things)
  • Passive mental rest (e.g. taking proper breaks and clocking out at a decent time)
  • Active mental rest (e.g. getting lost in a fantastic science fiction book or historical romance and experiencing, through mirror neurones, an alternate reality; stargazing; cloud watching)  
  • Passive creative rest (e.g. seeing natural wonders and works of art that inspire you)
  • Active creative rest (e.g. painting, pottery, writing poetry, flower arranging… any creative act of being lost in the flow of self-expression just for joy, and not for an outcome)
  • Passive emotional rest (e.g. being emotionally held and supported in ways that allow sharing your full range of emotions rather than putting on a show for others and feeling able to say no to others)
  • Active emotional rest (e.g. being held and holding others in physical intimacy [sexual and non-sexual]. Note that hugging pets and trees and connecting with meaningful places in the landscape like healing and holy sites, favourite spots and the ocean, are also valuable non-sexual ways of experiencing active heldness in the world – it doesn’t only come through other humans. Feeling belonging in place matters).
  • Internal social-emotional rest (e.g. inner child work, sound baths, journaling, and other self-care practices that deepen the internal connection with parts of the self and foster cohesion and understanding between what David Eagleman calls the “parliament of disagreeing voices”).
  • Active social rest (e.g. taking a break from people and situations that exhaust you, and making time for ones that rejuvenate you). 
  • Passive social rest (e.g. disconnecting from the news and social media for at least a few days)

To all of this, I also add the following, because if you’re doing these other rests but living on chocolate and coffee, the quality of that rest is deeply impacted. 

  • Passive digestive rest (e.g. fasting) 
  • Active digestive rest (e.g. detoxing)  

And finally, spiritual rest (doing something that feels greater than yourself and, meditation/prayer). This could be broken down into as many different rests as we have in the list above so far – the fact that it is all squeezed into one is a testament to how low spirituality is set as a priority in the Western construct of reality. That will have to be a whole other post on its own.

If we need all of this rest, why have we created a world where it’s so unavailable?


Sadly, the answer to that is we are more easily controlled when we are tired and overworked. We’re less confident. Less independent. Less creative. Less entrepreneurial – even as entrepreneurs. We act from fear, not from expansion. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson highlight that missing just one hour of sleep a night causes children to neurologically experience a temporary regression of -2 years of age. When that issue becomes chronic, there can be lasting damage and again, that is purely looking at one kind of rest. As adults our brains are still highly susceptible to being overtaxed, but it’s become the norm.

Most people who start a business want more freedom, flexibility and a higher income, but then import the belief system of corporate success into their business. If you find yourself working long hours, worrying and feeling guilty that taking a day off will mean you lose out, the chances are you’re in that category. I’ve worked with people who have built seven and even eight figure businesses who still hold those beliefs; working long hours, feeling perpetually exhausted, and pushing perpetually for the next goal. 

The idea of real time off is like a dream they’re terrified to have and so desperately need. Their business is a great machine that requires all they have and more, because that’s what they’ve built it on. They don’t feel the money around them at all, not matter what the number is. In fact, they feel massive shame because that money is everyone’s dream and they have it, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve made it. It still doesn’t feel like enough. They’re still managing to find themselves fall short of the way they thought it would all feel. Instead it just feels like emptiness and pain because it came from internally comparing, shaming and forcing themselves when what they really needed was understanding, love and rest. 

If you’re there, that’s ok. You are not alone. Come and see me and we can sort it out. 

If you’re earlier in your journey and just building your business now, please take heed. Working until you are completely deleted doesn’t create a great feeling when the money finally comes. It just leaves you with a profound need to reconnect with yourself that becomes so huge and unwieldy, many entrepreneurs burn their business to the ground and start over, hoping for a different result. It was Einstein who said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Different results come through a different relationship with yourself and that starts with taking your needs seriously. 

Which brings us full circle to rest. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and the middle, while also stealing wax from it to try and build your mum’s because she’s ill and needs you and, your kids’ candles because they’re little and, your partner’s candle plus a whole lot more. Please. Stop. Now. You will do better work, be a better person and live your best life when you take radical responsibility for your wholeness. Rest fosters cognitive wholeness; creative wholeness, emotional wholeness and a whole lot more wholenesses. So rest up xx


Dr. Morgana

Dr. Morgana McCabe Allan


There’s always more to LEARN

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Coach for Artisans

Morgana McCabe Allan is incredibly wise yet personable, revolutionary yet relational, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached through mindset calls with her. I will be hearing her words in my head for years to come!

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