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The cost of alcohol mixed with entrepreneurship was a price too high for me to pay

With inflation on the rise, so is the pressure on many families. There’s a temptation at times like these for us entrepreneurs to hide at the bottom of a glass. My encouragement to you today is to ignore it and shine on the stage that has been set for you!

Forget inflated egos and one-up-man-ship, we are in a time when we might have to do whatever it takes to live a life of no limits. As I have gotten older, the limitations I’ve placed on myself have given me a sharper focus and enabled me to go further.

I don’t often talk about it because I don’t want other people to feel condemned. The truth is though, next year, I won’t have drunk a drop of alcohol for twenty years. In the past, other people have openly mocked me for making this choice, and some of my team have been mocked for taking a similar stance. Interestingly though, today, the mockers in question don’t drink any more either! What I have found is that life can be extraordinary when you choose to be less ordinary. A choice not to drink is a fairly unusual one to make but it can lead to really exceptional consequences.

For me, being a hero was only a possibility after I chose ‘zero’. I’m not trying to be ‘holier than thou’ I’m just sharing what has given me real clarity and longevity of vision.

There is an old saying in the church world that three things rob you of your platform: the gold, the glory and the girls. In other words, losing your reputation happens as a result of an abuse of your profits, your power or your position.

Major pitfalls for leaders come in the guise of money, power, and sex. Not managing these three things well has sabotaged families, businesses, and purposeful people since time immemorial. I guess, the problem is that as you go and grow there is more at stake, you stand to lose more and more people depend on you.

Alcohol brings people down. It loosens you up and you say the wrong thing, act the wrong way, and ultimately make bad choices. How do I know? Err…. Well I was fairly good at making bad choices and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made bad choices without alcohol but when I drank alcohol it just seemed to increase my chances of messing up.

The gold.

I valued myself by the money I had in the bank. Funny thing is, I’ve discovered, as an entrepreneur, that the amount of money I have in the bank changes on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with having a lot of money, it’s a great tool to have in your hands. It’s when you fall in love with it that it becomes a problem. If we assign our value to the money, then when funds are low our confidence plummets, and when we are flush, we get too full of ourselves. Alcohol really enhances this! Either drives us nose-diving into depression to escape reality or taking wild risks.

Do you want to know how art is sold? You hold a great launch party, fill your guests with alcohol, make sure that none of the staff drink and (most importantly) make sure that you have a card machine at hand.

Money and alcohol together will normally cause you to lose money rather than adding to your bank balance. Launch party guests might gain a great piece of art as an investment (it’s certainly possible) but it might be more by luck than judgment.

The glory

Staying humble is definitely worth it. Alcohol has a strange way of making us think more highly of ourselves than we should. Pride really does lead to a fall and really gets those tongues wagging. Cue a life of regret. As fast as the drink flows, so will regret for what you might disclose!

The girls (or the boys)

How is it that middle age men start to think that because they have cash in bank they are attractive to someone twenty years younger? Then the guy trades the faithful woman who has walked through the lean years with him for a younger model!

Bad choices split families, ruin reputations and lead to shame. The people that trusted you struggle for years to get over the impact of a moment of madness.

For me, as a young art director, all this kind of craziness in the world of media became normality.
Women in position cracking onto younger guys while husbands were away on business! Flirtation shifting to something more sinister in the midnight hours. The office party became a hunting ground for Boomers looking to reclaim their youth and score with youth as a badge of honour.

Ah, you might say, but that was then, times have changed! Err..nope. Same alcohol, same story.

Choices change:

As an entrepreneur you build to give yourself choices but there are some that it’s best to run from!
The more you have at stake, the graver the impact of the odd mistake. If you stay sober you don’t have to fake it. You can be you.

Since I stopped drinking and I’ve gotten over being me in social situations, I have started to love being me! I can be more my authentic self. I relax and listen, keeping an eye out for the predators that invade safe spaces. I am more able to celebrate what is important.

Then the next day, I can wake up fresh, having driven home. There’s no time wasted on hollow apologies, no anxiety of shame and no worry about any drunken revelations.

And the funny thing is that I’m finding many more people coming to the same conclusion as I did about alcohol ie. that it’s distracting rather than attracting the right stuff.

Another thing I found that I was still able to enjoy the taste of a cold beer on a hot day. There are so many beers that don’t have alcohol in them, or the same amount as an orange! There are even a few out there that genuinely taste great, for me Guinness 0.0 is the leader of the table. So, even if you like the taste more than the fuzzy feeling… you still have options!

A life with no alcohol allows me to be ‘on it’ and available to help. It allows me to socialise with freedom. My family has grown up without it and I know that our children will have to make their own choices, but we’ve modelled life without it so I’m hoping it’s less of an option.

When I trace back my family tree, on the other hand, I find the darkest stories and choices made by my family members under the influence of alcohol.

I close with this. Entrepreneurship is a journey of many ups and downs. Staying in tune with you and your mental, physical and spiritual health will help you to flourish and keep going for the long haul.

I want to:

Leave a lasting impact.
Keep my family together.
Live free to be me – purposeful.

To do that, I gave up to go up!

Most people would see drinking and driving as inexcusable, because ‘just one more’ has killed careers, reputations and people. The way I see it for entrepreneurs is that you are driving change and drinking and driving will create obstacles that will make life harder to navigate.

I’m not judging anyone, I just want to inspire people to get more out of life and win marginal gains. For me, giving up the drink is about finding space to think…

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