At some point an entrepreneur may be called upon to “Run on empty,” but how does a successful business operator get through it without losing everything in the process? In this edition of Tough Things First, Ray Zinn and guest host Rob Artigo explore the challenge of being pushed to the limit, and to keep going strong.
Rob Artigo: I’m Rob Artigo, your guest host for this edition of Tough Things First: the podcast, I’m an award-winning screenwriting and an investigative consultant. Being invited back is always a pleasure, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hey, Rob, so good to have you back on the program.
Rob Artigo: I’m sure you know the song from Jackson Browne from ’77, he released a song called “Running on Empty,” it was a huge hit at the time and it became a hit again in the ’90s with the movie Forrest Gump, and I think most people can relate to the feeling of running on empty. I’m sure, even though you’ve had great success in your life, you’ve had feelings like I’m running on empty, correct?
Ray Zinn: Absolutely. I mean, that’s a thing that most leaders don’t really understand, is how well can you run on empty.
Rob Artigo: And how would you define running on empty? Is this a completely being drained in life and you’re running out of steam to do anything?
Ray Zinn: It’s like running a marathon. There’s a point during the marathon where you hit the wall, and that wall says, “I don’t want to go anymore; I’m done.” Your body is chewing itself up. It’s living off all the reserves that you have, and the body says, “We’re done. We’re through.” And you have to be able to push through that. That’s the best example I can think of about running on empty, for those of you who’ve gotten to the point where your body just says, “I can’t go anymore.”
Or you’re psychologically drained and you say, “I can’t think anymore. I’ve lost my train of thought. I’m totally discombobulated.”
Being able to break through that, being able to go through the wall as they say in the marathon, is the ability to run on empty. And so, we all have different size gas tanks. Some have very small tanks and so they run out of gas really quick and others have huge gas tanks, and they can just keep going and going and goin and you say, “Where is he getting that energy? How can he do that? How can he continue on with all that’s happening?”
That’s what I mean by running on empty. I have a friend that recently lost his spouse, and so I was wondering how he’s doing. And he made the comment that boy, it’s draining. He says, “It’s hard to keep going right now, because I’m dealing with all the issues surrounding the loss of my spouse,” and so he’s distracted and he hasn’t been able to push through that. And so, that takes time to be able to get through the problems associated with these tragedies that will beset us in our lives.
Or, when we have some other, financial setback or whatever, marital issue, children issues, that we have to be able to push through it or we’ll sink right with the despair that we’re in.
Rob Artigo: It can be paralyzing I think, and when you reach that point where there’s the mental fatigue along with the physical fatigue and then the despair, the word despair, sinks in and starts to sort of consume your life a little bit, then you can be paralyzed by it.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, despair is a good way to put it, because that’s what happens, even when you’re running these long distances, your body gets in despair. And it just says, “We’re done! There’s no more gas in the tank.” And being able to push through that, being able to get through that despair, is the ability to run on empty and so, how do you compartmentalize the loss of a spouse, marital problems, or some financial issue?
How do you push through that and through that wall, as they say in the marathon, how do you get through that and be able to keep yourself energized, even though your body and your mind your heart is broken and you’re just beyond, as they say, repair? And that’s what we’re talking about today is being able to run on empty, being able to push through that despair, being able to overcome all the challenges and the adversity that we face in our lives is what I refer to as the ability to run on empty, and you as a leader, as an entrepreneur, you will run into these challenges, you will hit the wall so many times, and you will have to learn to be able to push through that, be able to get through that despair and continue on, because if you can’t, your employees won’t be able to do it either, because you’re the leader of the band.
Leading the charge or continuing on when it looks like everything is lost is what I call running on empty.
Rob Artigo: I guess it starts all with a mental outlook, which is not allowing yourself to see a empty road ahead or a brick wall ahead. It’s that, being able to look through the fog, the murkiness, and just have a feeling that you know that things will get better.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, I call this turning a negative into a positive. If you can do that, you will never be defeated, so look at your negative and say, “How can I turn that into a, how can I make lemonade out of these lemons?” And that’s when you will be able to break through the wall, you’ll be able to have that energy to overcome the despair that would normally beset you if you weren’t able to turn these negatives into positives.
Rob Artigo: Which is why that song we were talking about, “Running on Empty,” of course, Jackson Browne song, it was, in essence, a positive song.
Ray Zinn: Absolutely. That’s what running on empty is. Running on empty is making lemonade out of lemons, so turning that negative into a positive. You will never be defeated.
Rob Artigo: Thank you again, Ray, I appreciate being back.
Ray Zinn: Again, Rob. It’s always good to talk to you.
Rob Artigo: Now, people can reach out to you, if they have questions, or they want to talk about the show or they want to talk to you about the book, they can do that at ToughThingsFirst.com and some other sources, right?
Ray Zinn: Absolutely. Please let me know what’s on your mind!