In the 1997 crime novel, One Step Behind, from the Inspector Wallander series, author Henning Mankel offered this exchange between the inspector and a forensics expert:
"Police work wouldn't be possible without coffee," Wallander said.
"No work would be possible without coffee."
They pondered the importance of coffee in silence.
Wallander and his fellow law enforcement colleague aren't the only ones who've pondered the significance of coffee or the effect it has had on the success or failure of our ability to do our jobs. "I found out venti skim lattes, with an extra shot, not too hot, were a key to my success," says Mark Faust, a business growth advisor and owner of Echelon Management International, a growth and turnaround company in Cincinnati. "Life has been better ever since."
And many entrepreneurs would agree with him. The ability to think more clearly, to stay focused and to successfully make it through dull meetings or the afternoon lulls—coffee's benefits are common knowledge to the millions of people who imbibe. Recent statistics from Statistics Brain show that 100 million Americans drink coffee every day.
The Dark Side of Coffee
Despite the long-touted benefits of caffeine, there's also a downside, especially if you overdo it. For instance, are you so dependent that you can't get going without your morning cup of joe? Do you get headaches when you go without? Do you blame coffee for those occasional jitters or sleepless nights? Is it even possible to run a business at full energy and adrenaline without caffeine?
While you may perish the thought, some entrepreneurs get along just fine without coffee, caffeinated cola or caffeine-loaded energy drinks to get them through the day. If you're looking for some ideas and inspiration to break your caffeine habit, try one of the paths these entrepreneurs are taking:
1. Exercise. Kathy Pickus, who runs DotGirlProducts.com, swears by it. "Even though I live in the home state of Starbucks," Pickus says, "I've never touched the stuff."
Instead, Pickus swims in the early morning, and when she has the time, she'll fit in a late afternoon outdoor walk. Exercising regularly helps her get a good night's sleep, Pickus says, "which, of course, increases my energy level to get me through the next day."
She has a point. As you probably know, exercise releases chemicals in your body called endorphins. As WebMD.com states, "Endorphins ... trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as 'euphoric.' That feeling, known as a 'runner's high,' can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life."
Not a bad thing to feel when you're running a business.
2. Drink water. Some people never touch the stuff, apparently reasoning that water can rust metal, so imagine what it might do to your body. But Moe Glenner, a serial entrepreneur, speaker and author, from South Bend, Indiana, says he manages to stay productive—"at least most of the day"—drinking water.
He never touches caffeine, he says. "While I'm not a doctor, by being well-hydrated, I seem to have plenty of energy to be both productive and creative," Glenner says. "Some protein-based snacks also help."
And, yes, drinking caffeine-infused water is cheating.
3. Mind over matter. Glenner believes your love for your business, not caffeine, should be the fuel that drives you. "I truly believe that if your passion is with your enterprise, you don't need an additional pick-me-up," Glenner says. "Your mission by itself suffices."
That may be—once you knock the habit, of course. There's a reason people don't give up caffeine easily. Dana Manciagli, a speaker and career coach, and, like Pickus, a resident of Seattle, eliminated caffeine completely six months ago. She did it because her personal fitness trainer recommended cutting it out of her diet.
"I decided to go cold turkey," Manciagli says. "No black tea, no coffee, no nothing. I felt sick for about three weeks." After that period of withdrawal, Manciagli says, "I had more energy than when I was drinking coffee."
Because of the withdrawal effects of caffeine, many health experts suggest cutting back gradually and either replacing your favorite beverage with something that has less of that pick-me-up or switching to something you enjoy just as much. Manciagli's new habits include an early morning session at the gym, drinking lots of water throughout the day, and making sure she gets in seven hours of sleep a night.
Staying the Course
But for those entrepreneurs who are happy with the way things are and are looking for a reason to stick with their grande dark roast double shot, take solace in Faust, a coffee disciple. "I went years without caffeine," he says. "But when I consistently read about different research studies that are congruent about the benefits to your health—for your brain, memory, productivity, liver—I couldn't deny myself the physical benefits."
Of caffeine's importance, Faust says, "I literally look at it as just one more of my many supplements and vitamins, which include cayenne, ginger, fish oil, multivitamins, fruits with resveratrol and even oil with extra vitamin D."
In fact, Faust adds defiantly, "If I don't get my coffee, I take a green coffee supplement."
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