Entrepreneurs have unique qualities, often driven by a desire to challenge norms and create change. Restlessness, ambition, enthusiasm, determination, and creativity are crucial traits.
Entrepreneurs often face more mental health and addiction challenges than the general public, with higher rates in their families. Basically, childhood adversity leads to a higher likelihood of entrepreneurship.
Substance use disorders, ADHD, and mood disorders are more common among entrepreneurs. They report higher rates of depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use (12%), and bipolar disorder (11%). In comparison, the general population experiences 15% depression, 5% ADHD, 4% substance use, and 1% bipolar disorder.
One-third of entrepreneurs have two or more mental health conditions, and 18% have three or more.
OCD, dyslexia, and Asperger’s Syndrome are also notable conditions. Asperger’s has been identified in entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. Peter Thiel suggests this mild autism could benefit companies by encouraging new ideas.
Two theories exist about the link between entrepreneurship and mental health conditions. Some say certain traits are valuable in the startup world, while others believe entrepreneurs choose self-employment or company creation due to adversity.
Aristotle observed, “There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” Exceptional creativity or talent may coincide with unconventional thinking or eccentricity. And Steve Jobs entrepreneurial spirit reminds us that “the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Increasing awareness of mental health issues and openly discussing them has a profound impact on society. And we so need a healthy generation of trailblazers and pioneers right now to let go of the status quo and create healthy paths that light us up. We also need to do create thriving communities that can support the divergence we need in new and ancient ways.