As popular as alcohol is – nearly 140 million current drinkers in the U.S. alone – it’s a bit of a sticky subject. People don’t like to talk about it – they just like to drink it. This is especially true in the business world, where many people, unfortunately, let it control their careers and influence their decision making.
As an adult with an ability to make whatever personal decisions you’d like, it’s perfectly within your legal rights to enjoy alcohol as often as you’d like. But from an entrepreneurial/professional perspective, there’s a lot more to gain from actively pursuing sobriety.
Alcohol and Business: A Bond as Old as Time
All you have to do is watch a couple of episodes of Mad Men and you’ll realize that alcohol and business have been connected for a long time. It’s a bond as old as time, especially in certain industries.
Take the legal field as an example. Former attorney Natalie Baker likes to say the law profession is a “tradition steeped in alcohol.” And while she’s no longer a practicing attorney, her current job consists of marketing to and building relationships with other attorneys. As a result, she’s frequently around copious amounts of alcohol.
“With so much personal experience in this area, it’s no surprise to me that practicing law is seen as a profession especially prone to substance abuse – the long hours, the lack of a social life, the pressure to excel,” Baker writes for Rehabs.com. “In fact, one in three practicing lawyers drink to excess, a number that’s roughly five times higher than the government estimates for alcohol use disorder in the general population.”
It’s not just the field of law, either. Ad-sales executives and other ambitious professionals are around it quite frequently.
“I just basically rented space at P. J. Clarke’s,” ad-sales executive Terry Lavin says, referring to the Midtown Manhattan watering hole. “I was always the last to leave, always had a cocktail in my hand.” Then he decided to go sober for a few months and those in the industry raised their eyebrows.
“I would call guys I was friendly with, guys who had their hands on big ad budgets, to see if they wanted to go to happy hour or get something to eat,” he remembers, “And they’d say: ‘Are you drinking? No? Don’t worry about it.’ ”
As an entrepreneur who spends time networking, pitching to investors, and trying to close deals, you’re certainly aware of the prominence of alcohol in the business world. In fact, it’s plausible that it’s taken control over your professional life – even if you wouldn’t consider yourself an “alcoholic.”
The Professional Benefits of Being Sober
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to give sobriety a try? While there are numerous personal advantages and perks, there are also some professional benefits.
(Note: Though this article talks about sobriety in a way that makes the choice to stop drinking sound easy and effortless, this isn’t always the case. If you find that you have an addiction and can’t easily stop on your own, don’t get discouraged. You may need to seek professional help.)
With all of that being said, here are some of the specific professional benefits sobriety affords:
1. More Productive Mornings
Is there anything worse than walking into a morning meeting hung over? Even if you aren’t hung over in the sense that you have a pounding a headache and find it difficult to keep your breakfast down, there’s something about staying up late the night before that kills your efficiency.
As an entrepreneur, morning productivity is one of the greatest rewards you’ll reap. You’ll be able to walk into the office, plow through your goals, and feel like you’ve accomplished an entire day’s worth of work before lunchtime rolls around.
2. Better Social Skills
Entrepreneur James Swanwick is someone who gave up drinking a few years ago – even though it wasn’t a major part of his life to begin with – and he found numerous benefits. One of the most surprising was how much his social skills improved.
“With a clearer mind, I thought more about how I could help people, rather than how they could help me,” Swanwick recalls. “I learned to engage people in conversation by asking questions like, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ or ‘What's your story?’ or ‘That’s interesting, tell me more.’ I wasn’t relying on alcohol to loosen up; I was just relying on people skills, intense listening, self-assurance and confidence.”
3. Better Stress Management
You don’t need anyone to tell you about stress. As an entrepreneur, you know all about the anxiety and pressures that come with trying to build a business and make a living. Unfortunately, alcohol often becomes a crutch for handling stress. Whether it’s a beer at lunch or a cocktail after you get home from the office, many entrepreneurs turn to drinking to numb some of the emotions they feel.
When you stop drinking, you’ll learn better stress management tactics. Instead of numbing the stress, you’ll actually find ways to deal with it head-on. This can seem scary, but it’s advantageous down the road.
4. Physical Health Improvements
If you’ve been a consistent drinker for your entire adult life, then you probably don’t know what it feels like to be totally free of alcohol. Not only will you lose some weight as a result of your newfound sobriety, but you can also expect to sleep better, enjoy clearer skin, and have fewer digestive issues.
5. Greater Respect From Peers
While Terry Lavin saw some of his business contacts abandon him when he decided to stop drinking, this is an exception more than it is the rule. You’ll get some people who will throw friendly jabs your way for not drinking, but most people will have a greater deal of respect for you. They’ll appreciate your discipline and will actually trust you more.
Sobriety: A Decision You’ll Rarely Regret
Are there some possible negatives associated with sobriety in the business world? Possibly. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any serious ones. Aside from having some buddies poke fun at you, you don’t have much to lose. In fact, you have everything to gain.