How Fasting is Similar to the Entrepreneurial Journey

 

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Last week, I did the Master Cleanse, a six-day fasting program in which I consumed a solution of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I do the Master Cleanse once a year for both the health benefits, as well as the mental endurance challenge. This year, during the fast, I had a revelation: the fasting journey is analogous to the entrepreneurial journey. No, I’m not insisting that all entrepreneurs need to undergo the Master Cleanse. But I am saying the attributes that get you through a fast are similar to the attributes you must adopt in order to be a successful entrepreneur.

Fasting has been around since the dawn of religion. Among the pious, abstaining from food for a period of time is thought to be good for the soul. Fasting has also been used to make political statements. Gandhi went on several hunger strikes as a non-violent way of protesting social injustice.

In modern times, increasing numbers of people fast for health and longevity. Researchers and dieticians are divided over the health benefits of fasting, but clearly I’m in the camp of believers. According to research by Dr. Mark Mattson, the Chief of Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, fasting acts as a form of mild stress that increase cellular defenses against molecular damage. In other words, according to Mattson, fasting can lower the risk of degenerative brain diseases and even prolong lifespan.

As you can see from my documentary tweets below, abstaining from food for six days wasn’t easy (especially when you love food as much as I do). But now that I’ve completed the program, I feel better than awesome! I have greater mental acuity and physical strength. And I feel a sense of accomplishment — not unlike how entrepreneurs feel when they’ve sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears to make their startups successful.

Like fasting, the entrepreneurial process of building a company — hiring people, getting funding, shipping product, increasing profits — can be painful. Some entrepreneurs, just as some fasters, don’t have what it takes to complete the journey. But the fasters and entrepreneurs who do prevail share three fundamental traits:

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