Your brain is not designed to hold ideas, your brain is designed to have ideas.” – Robert Allen, ‘Getting Things Done”
An informal survey of 150 senior managers who participated in the most recent Sustainable Leaders Strategic Planning workshop revealed the biggest challenge they faced was “having too much to do in too little time with fewer resources than ever before… and having to make the right decisions quickly.”
The often unbelievable demands to be both highly productive and accurate bombard us daily. What’s different? The speed with which business must get done today is light years faster than even 15 or 20 years ago. In many industries (technology), change happens too quickly and if you only strive to keep up, you will be out of business faster than you can say “Buck Rogers.”
There are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot create “more time” in a day. The solution for most is to work longer and harder to get the job done. The only problem with that solution is that it is a recipe for burn out.
Let’s break the rules and shift your perspective consider this: Time is a limited resource and energy is an infinitely unlimited resource. You cannot create more time. You can, however, create more energy by taking control not only of your time, but where your attention is within that time frame.
My personal observation is that productive and sustainable leaders who feel happy and satisfied at the end of each day actively focus on BOTH how much they DO and DON’T DO to conserve brain power and leverage energy successfully.
Say “No” 100 times for every time you say “Yes.” If saying “No” is hard for you (as it is for most people), add “No, thank you” so you can get the added benefit of being grateful and appreciative, if not polite.
The latest studies in brain based learning prove that multitasking is not only impossible (we switch attention, our brains are incapable of focusing on two things at once), but to make matters worse, the reduction in accuracy for even the “best multi-tasker” doing the simplest of tasks is almost 50%. Pretty scary when you think about the complex tasks you do simultaneously (driving a car, talking on a cell phone or talking on the phone and typing an email response). Try to focus on doing one thing at a time. Notice how much less time it takes, especially because you don’t run the risk of hitting “send” prematurely then spending time on damage control.
Bottom line, people will feel heard and be able to find their own solutions more easily without unnecessary interference from you. And, you will conserve your brain power for more important challenges that lie ahead.
When you delegate, trust and offer challenges to people, not only will it benefit you, but also they’ll feel better about you if you do. We all know the importance of delegating so that you aren’t seen as the control freak in the corner office. But did you know that when you delegate responsibilities and tasks (with their buy in of course), the meta-message (as long as the deadline is reasonable or they are involved in setting the deadline) or message under the message, is “trust.” The receiver feels you believe in them enough to give them the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Win win.
Indecision happens when we have too many thoughts getting stuck in or out of sequence in the cognitive pipeline. Often we can get thoughts flowing again when we ask ourselves “What’s the one most important thing that needs to be decided and acted upon before that decision can be made?”
Whether you are a list maker or mind map fan, get every thought bouncing around inside of your head OUT of your head and onto paper, a whiteboard or computer program you are in the habit of checking or using regularly (“Freemind” is a simple and free example). Robert Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is a must read for “How To’s” when it comes to being more productive so you can take quick, effective action.
The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC for short) is the part of your brain responsible for your ability to avoid distraction, make decisions, reason, understand and memorize. Think of it as powered by rechargeable batteries, not a 220v power cord plugged into an outlet in the wall. It needs frequent recharging (among other ingredients) in order for high performance. Taking a short 20 minute walk inside or outside your office building at the most hectic time of day will not only benefit your metabolism and your waistline, but also your brain. Try shutting off your brain for 5 minutes just two or three times a day, talk to a co-worker about a non-related subject (this is probably why gossip is so enticing), play a game of angry birds or juggle.
Think of how many “mindless” automatic patterns you have every day. Repeatedly doing routine tasks (like shaving, putting on your pants or brushing your teeth) the same way every day, doesn’t do your brain any favors. You are just deepening the same brain groove over and over. You are wasting valuable real estate! If you normally put your right leg in your pants first, put your left leg in first instead. If you begin shaving your face left side first, try starting your first swipe on a different part of your face. Do you have stairs in your office building? Which leg do you typically start with as you start up a flight of stairs? Try what you think I’m going to suggest next ….
If you are paid to think, treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease. Pick one of these 7 Tips to practice each day and notice what happens to your mind and your mood; you too will become a Sustainable Leader one small step at a time.
Stress just comes with your job and the good news is that stress isn’t necessarily “bad.” Here’s what you need to know about how chronic stress effects your brain and your ability to fullfill your responsibilities.
As a supervisor, manager or CXO, you are paid to think and make the right decisions quickly. You are also responsible for managing and motivating others, which isn’t always easy (or fun!). And you still have to deliver on time and on budget.
Next to your heart, your brain will be your most valuable asset or your biggest liability. Given all of the constant pressure from every direction, how are you supposed to get it all done, do your best work, answer to your boss(es) and be a good boss yourself, too? Stressful, right?
If you are paid to think, your greatest asset might just become an endangered species. And if you don’t learn to adapt quickly, you and your career might just become extinct, too. the Manchester study found almost 50% of newly hired or recently promoted executives get fired or quit within the first 18 months in their new position. Wonder why?
As an executive coach and leadership development consultant (and a licensed therapist), I have seen more people’s lives come crashing down around them as a result of unrecognized or unresolved stress that leads to overwhelm that leads to burn out, then often bouts with anxiety or depression. They get the wake up call from their doctor “If you don’t slow down you’ll have a heart attack.” Or the wake up call from the board “You’re under-performing” or worse “you’re fired.” Or the spouse“I want a divorce” because they are burning the candle at both ends and their relationships have been suffering for far too long.
The speed with which we get information, process information and take need to action today is light years faster than even 10 or 15 years ago. Because of the globalization of business, fierce and fast competitors, the digital age and social media, the expectation is business gets done 24/7 365. There is no down time. Our human, fragile brain is powered by rechargeable batteries, not 220v. We can no longer keep up the pace, much less effectively or efficiently process the 40 million pieces of information that’s being hurled at us every waking hour.
Many people believe that stress in our “crazy busy” lives is a “given” and we should be able to “just deal with it.” Recent discoveries in brain science tell us we aren’t doing such a great job. Not only is stress increasingly affecting our physical health and our mental health, stress negatively impacts our ability to think, to make decisions and to communicate. Very critical skills for business owners, managers and leaders at all levels.
When I am speaking to audiences I ask, “What’s your biggest problem at work today?” and the answer is often “I have too much to do, not enough time to do it and not enough resources to do it right.” Yes, that’s a problem, but is not the problem. Because we can’t create more hours in the day, the solution that has now become the problem is to work harder and longer. And now “overwhelm” is a state we visit frequently. Our tolerance for stress is increasing and it’s comfortably familiar … the “new normal.”
And it’s getting worse. Many of us are now addicted to the powerful brain chemicals produced by chronic stress. We can’t get things done and need higher and higher levels of these chemicals to motivate us. Our immune systems are on overload resulting in disease. My personal observation is we feel more disconnected, from ourselves and from each other. As a result we are experiencing more interpersonal conflict and dis-ease at home and at work than ever before. Bad news.
Stress leads to chronic overwhelm and ultimately to burnout. If you ignore the early warning signs, chronic stress will quickly derail you, your career and your personal relationships. If you only strive to “manage stress” (which is no longer possible or feasible) you will slip down the corporate ladder faster than you can blink an eye.
Denial will not serve you when it comes to learning how to transform your relationship with stress. The bad news? Most people will nod in agreement, yet continue with their same habits and take no action.
If you are paid to think, you must treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease.
Do you know the early warning signs of burnout?
If you are a business owner, senior manager, director or CXO interested in identifying the early warning signs (7 will surprise you) click here to take a brief stress survey to avoid burnout. The first 5 people each month who complete the survey will receive a personal review (not just a computer-generated score) and 45 minute complimentary and confidential Strategy Session by a licensed professional (yours truly) to see where and how you can take steps now to transform stress into peace of mind.
The good news? Transforming stress is easier than you think and absolutely possible! My coaching clients tell me that when they learn and apply practical tools to manage their energy and attention instead of trying to manage their time, the results are almost immediate. Now instead of feeling chronically stressed out and overwhelmed, they feel confident they can make a difference AND feel happy, satisfied and productive at the end of each day. The result is they become Sustainable Managers & Leaders. Click here now to take the survey.
When you, focus instead on responding rather than reacting to stress you will be able to transform “bad stress” into an opportunity to be a much more effective business owner, manager or CXO. You, too can become a Sustainable Leader: A person who is in a position of authentic influence that creates value and who is built to last from the inside out and for the long haul.
What do Sustainable Leaders are do differently? Hint: They learn and practice skills to actively focus on both how much they DO and DON’T DO to successfully conserve brain power, transform stress and become very efficient with their energy.
P.S. Stay tuned for the next post: The 7 Habits of Highly Sustainable Leaders, then pick one of the 7 tips to practice each day for two weeks. Notice what happens to your mind and your mood. You can learn new habits to transform stress, be more productive and have peace of mind at the end of the day knowing you’ve done your best work and helped your team do their best work, too. Don’t want to wait? Get started now: Click here now to take the survey.
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT – Speaker, Author & Executive Coach, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Leadership, Inc. For leadership speaking, leadership coaching or leadership training inquiries, contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org
As a director, manager or executive, you know growth, while good, has its downside.
You may have even noticed a little more stress now – sleepless nights and ongoing worry wondering how you are going to keep your team on board, headed in the same direction AND get deliver the results everyone is counting on, too.
Stress just comes with the territory, right?
Keeping yourself AND your team engaged and productive while you are going through growing pains may be top of mind right now. You are focused, you delegate, you make critical decisions quickly, and you probably handle high levels of stress much more easily than your peers. Yet it could get lonely at the top, too. And you are (still) human.
There is a lot research and buzz about the rewards of having engaged employees and the costs of having disengaged employees. Did you know that disengaged employees costs organizations $3,400 a year for every $10,000 in salary … and turnover—the inevitable outcome of disengagement—costs organizations between 48 and 61% of an employee’s annual salary?
What would be the cost to you personally and professionally as you have to do more with less, meet even higher demands (from your boss AND your team) AND deliver on time and on budget despite your company’s growing pains? The cost would be two-fold: you could end up being that “stressed out boss” AND have “stressed out employees” because emotions are contagious.
When the early signs of “leadership stress” – a unique type of stress experienced by people who are responsible for the well-being of others. When the first signs appear you might not notice, but others will … and they may not tell you. As you get stretched too thin watch out for the negative ripple effect of stress down the line to your team members, who will then become less engaged, more distracted and less productive.
That would be a problem, especially right now for someone at your level of responsibility … for your team, your career and your company. As a licensed therapist and executive coach for more than 15 years, I’ve seen the devastating outcomes for leaders, careers, companies and families of ignoring the early warning signs of (leadership) stress. I have assisted hundreds of smart, insanely busy leaders to identify the key leverage points and strategies to prevent career derailment.
I am very excited to announce a resource that could be of interest to you! Through extensive research and experience, I have compiled 30 key questions to isolate and identify …
An 8 minute, quick and easy assessment tool so you can identify the early warning signs and make simple changes before it’s too late :
THIS IS NOT a computer generated assessment! As a licensed professional I will evaluate your results, which includes a customized, personalized and confidential review AND solutions, your unique leverage points and a strategy for turning it around. Your results are 100% confidential and will be shared with no one but you.
To help you be exceedingly more productive, get more done in less time with fewer resources, resourceful, optimistic, agile, resilient, effective, engaged, confident, happier, satisfied and connected “best boss” (and help your team do the same). Most importantly, you can love the heck out of what you do again or through this exciting time in your growth period.
I have reserved a limited number of appointments on my calendar for the first 10 leaders who complete the survey to receive a complimentary Leadership Strategy Session to review your results with you.
I will personally provide you with a customized, personalized and confidential review AND solutions, recommendations for leverage points so you can turn it around quickly.
Whether you can benefit from knowing the signs for yourself, or knowing the signs to assist someone on your team from stress leading to burn-out leading to disengagement, you’ll want to know the critical signs … before it’s too late!
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Did you know that 47% of newly hired or recently promoted Senior Executives get fired or quit within the first 18 months on the job? But I”m not a Senior Executive or “Leader” … you say. Why would you let that stop you from learning from their mistakes?
Why? One reason is poor performance, another is burn up and burn out caused by the stress from the inability to get onboard with the “human side” of the success equation fast enough: Connecting and building trust with your new team!
Not just any stress is the culprit … Power Stress*, a unique type of stress experienced by those who are responsible for the well being of others – your team, your employees and possibly even your clients.
Unrecognized and unresolved stress Power Stress will paralyze your ability to think quickly and use your intuition to make the right decisions? Because stress is contagious, your team suffers, too … especially when you need then the most!
If you are a newly hired or recently promoted leader building trust with your new team is essential for success in your new role.
Beware … awareness is overrated!
If you don’t have an executable accountability plan for WHAT, WHEN & HOW TO you could find that the fall down the corporate ladder is much swifter than the climb up …
What if you had a 3 Step Approach to Leverage Power Stress so you can reduce, manage and yes, even leverage the inevitable people challenges that come with your new position …
If you don’t yet have an executable plan for making lasting change – make one. To qualify for a complimentary, no obligation Leadership Strategy Session click here.
To Your Sustainable Leadership!
P.S. Now booking for 2014 for keynote or meeting presentations. Contact Christina to inquire about her most popular presentations or to book your event today: 3 Steps to Leverage Stress for Leadership Success!
Yes, it’s shocking to see the dirty laundry of public heroes in their own right being aired in public, and perhaps that’s what makes the news.
Yet, it seems to be happening more often than ever before: Leaders who are responsible for making decisions and who have such influence over so many lives making shockingly poor decisions for their own personal gain or satisfaction.
Which leads me to ask a different question …
Why do we continue to be so shocked at the misbehavior and poor personal decisions of leaders compared to “regular” people who make the same poor decisions?
Let’s start by asking: Whose problem is it?
Maybe it is the problem of the leader who, perhaps as a result of extraordinary success and accomplishment, develops one or a combination of the following belief systems:
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Your behaviors are a result of your feelings … which are a result of BS!
Believe it or not, that’s good news …
Because there IS one question you can ask yourself to turn STRESS into PEACE …
Find out what this question is (and the other 20 Ways Managers & Leaders Can Eliminate Workplace Stress) on a free webinar:
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Watch your language!
To eliminate “lizard brain” (the emotional hijack caused by stress) avoid asking questions like “Why did you ..??” “WHY can’t you …?” “WHY don’t you …?” “WHY?” not only results in the listener feeling defensive, but also rarely matters when we are looking for solutions to a problem.
A better question effective leaders ask begins with “what” or “how” and helps people think. One example is asked with genuine curiosity (remember to manage your frustration first) … “What did you hope would happen by doing XYZ?”
Then, if you want people to trust you, shut up and listen.
To get the other 20 Ways to Eliminate Leadership Stress for You AND Your Team, click the link below to register for a free webinar:
Stress causes more than just physical symptoms. Did you know stress in the workplace erodes trust, productivity and creativity of you and your team?
Discover 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress to be able to do your best work, feel happier and more satisfied at the end of the day (and help your team do so, too!)
Today’s radio interview on #boomerbeat BlogTalk Radio on the biggest pitfall of executives … failing to plan for your transition into retirement:
If you are a leader in your company, you might be overwhelmed not just with “change” but how to keep up with the speed of change. My clients say this is what keeps them up at night.
And you may also feel some panic rise up in your chest when you think about not only the lightning speed with which change is happening all around you – but the sinking reality you’ll never keep up, much less catch up.
In Mike Myatt’s blog N2Growth he nicely outlines 3 Essentials for Every Leader when it comes to Change.
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