Category Archives for stress management

Are workplace negativity and poor attitudes a problem?

If workplace negativity and poor attitudes are a problem in your office, AVOID IS NOT A STRATEGY and you are not alone.  Here are some simple, no cost solutions  (and if this doesn’t work, you can find your customized solution at the bottom of this post):

Poor attitudes

Infographic by Quill

P.S. If this infographic doesn’t completely solve your workplace negativity problem, click here to contact Christina or email christina@sustainable-leaders.com or call (970) 387-8935 today to discuss a customized solution for your organization.

held hostage habits

Are you held hostage by old, comfortable habits?

Can habits hold you hostage?

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve said something and as you’re saying it you kind of can’t believe what you’re saying?  You’ve heard yourself telling the same story about how you endured a soul-sucking job, tolerated your obnoxious boss or felt exhausted and stuck in your business.

I was catching up with some old friends this weekend about some of our experiences and how our lives have changed over time. I was telling the story of when I first started my private counseling practice how I was contracted by Social Services to help clients who were “unmotivated and unwilling” (i.e., court ordered) referred by social services who were at risk of losing their children to the court system.

And especially about how I was on call 24/7 (remember pagers?) and we couldn’t take a family weekend away because there was no one else who could be “on call.” Sometimes I needed a police escort to my appointments.  How every Monday morning I’d find myself thinking “why am I doing this?”.

Since the social services contract made up 90% of my private practice, I was very busy.  I did the “crisis counselor” thing as an in-home-intensive-family-therapist for about 8 years.  And for the last six of them I’d be thinking “why am I doing this?”

As I explained this it dawned on me that it had taken rather a long time for me to go from realizing I wasn’t enjoying it to actually doing something about it.  Over 6 years.  Wow.  I was being held hostage by my own habits.

Much of the work I do today with business and executive coaching clients these days gives them a new perspective on their business and their impact.  Shows them possibilities and solutions they just hadn’t thought of before.

But often, just like me on a Monday morning, they already know they need something different. Sometimes they even know what that different thing is.  But they feel stuck.  Held hostage by habits.

Because when you’ve done something for a long, long time it becomes part of you.  It’s just what you do. For some, It’s who you become.  A mindless habit.  It’s easy.  It’s familiar.  It’s certain.  You know how to do it.  I’ve heard it all (and done it myself).

Even though you don’t like it, or it’s not really getting you the results you need, it’s a lot less scary than something completely new that might not work at all.  Or might make you look silly.  Or you might fail.

It took over six years (and a lot of encouragement from my husband) for me to get the courage to give up the certain income that came with that counseling contract and do what I really wanted to do.

Don’t let it take you that long to try something new in your business (or career).

You don’t have to change everything.  But pick one thing you don’t think is working well and drop it for a few months and do something else instead.  Stop saying “yes” to every request and say “let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.”  Stop taking on new clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile and say “Thank you, but it’s not a good fit, let me refer you to someone who could be a better fit for your needs.”

If it works, keep doing it.  If it doesn’t, try something else – sooner rather than later.

Not rocket science.  Obvious on paper.  Trickier to do in real life.  Therefore the six years.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Don’t you waste six more years, or even six more months doing something that constantly drains you, leaves you feeling exhausted or fails to bring you joy.

What’s one small thing you are willing to do (or stop doing) today so you aren’t held hostage by habits?

 

Christina Haxton, MA LMFT is the Chief Potential Officer & Founder of Sustainable Leadership.  An executive coach, business consultant and speaker, Christina assists busy business owners, high potential managers, key executives and CEOs to achieve successful work/life balance and peace of mind to become exceptional leaders who are built to last.  

To apply for a confidential Strategy Session to explore your business or career goals or to inquire about a professional development program for your team, meeting or conference, contact Christina at christina@sustainable-leaders.com or (970) 387-8935.

 

Stress: How Does Stress & Burnout Result In Poor Executive Decisions?

red pencil stress

Leaders: How Does Stress Impact Your Ability To Think?

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?

Here’s the problem: Stress, overwhelm and burnout is the “new normal”

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.

Are you paid to think? Why stress is an even bigger threat than ever before

What does stress do to our brain?

What does stress do to our brain?

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.

Stress is a symptom of a problem, not the problem

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.

The Stress Solution:  Avoid is NOT a strategy

Avoid is not a strategy when it comes to stress.

Avoid is not a strategy when it comes to stress.

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.

How to transform stress into opportunity

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 christina@sustainable-leaders.com

The Downside to Growth: 7 Signs of Leadership Stress & Survey for Executives

The Downside to Growth: 7 Signs of Leadership Stress & Survey for Executives

Growth is good … and leadership stress is unavoidable!

stressed executive

Executive feeling leadership stress

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.

stressed woman leader

Another stressed out executive

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.

The Downside to Growth:  Leadership Stress

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Downside to growth if a leader’s stress is ignored

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 …

The 7 Early Signs of Leadership Stress Executives Can’t Afford to Ignore

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 : 

Click here to take the Leadership Stress Assessment now

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Leadership Stress Survey

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.

teal leader happy

Leaders who transform stress into success

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.

Click here to take the Leadership Stress Assessment now

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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How to stay on track, get more done & feel satisfied at the end of the day

My father-in-law, a 75 year old ex-engineer, military cook  turned chef for the past 45 years who still works hard yet lives a fairly uncomplicated life (and who will NEVER retire nor get a computer) asked me  tonight, “Christina, are people getting crazier than they were 50 years ago?”

I answered honestly, “Yes.”stress man desk

He asks, “Why do you think that is?”  Again, my response was quick … “TMI” and realizing he would have NO idea what that meant, quickly added, “Too much information …”  and I added … “… too quickly.  And lack of human connection.”

Giving the term “crazy busy” new meaning.  Can being too busy cause insanity?  Yes, the clinician in me answers.  I see it everyday.

Dis-ease of our physical and mental health.  Symptoms of ADD, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, substance abuse and dependence, high blood pressure, heart attack, immune system dysfunction to name just a few.

Dis-ease in our relationships, both at home and at work.  Too “connected” to electronics and not enough real conversation, dialogue, curiosity or listening to each other.  Distractions rob us of our ability to connect with other people by being present, to deeply listen and care.

Dis-ease of our cognitive and intuitive ability to think, create, solve problems.

On a functional level, remember this:  “Your brain is not designed to HOLD IDEAS, it is designed to HAVE IDEAS.”

If you paid to think, piling more on or “stuffing 10 lbs of s*$@” in a 5 lb bag” will compromise your most important asset – your brain!

When we are juggling such a tremendous amount of information coming at us from the outside AND all of our worries, fears that come from the inside, we get “crazy busy” and can’t get it all done, much less do anything well.  Much less see obvious solutions because there’s too much crap in the bag.  Stop thinking.  Play.  Laugh.  Breathe deeply.  Be.

Getting things done and doing them to our satisfaction allows our brain to release serotonin (the neurotransmitter of satisfaction) and dopamine (the neurotransmitter of engagement, interest).  Connecting with someone also cleans out the bag and creates a space for solutions, creativity and inspiration.

Can I see a show of hands if you’d like to experience these feelings once a day? Twice a day?  Several times a day?

Solution #1:  Slow down.  Say “no thank you” more often.  Or don’t say “yes” so quickly, “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you” is a respectful response that buys you time to give it thought after you look at your calendar and respond rather than react.  Bonus points for public accountability and post it below!

Solution #2:  Choose a KISS from Suzie @Aceconcierge.net.  Commit to taking action on just 1 or 2 of the 35 Tips to Stay on Track and TAKE ACTION.  Keep track of the time you save and the peace of mind you gain after just one or two weeks (whichever feels more do-able to you).

Solution #3:  Practice saying, “If it’s not my genius, it’s not my job …” and consider hiring a Suzie (or Suzie herself @AceConcierge.net) to outsource a task or two that’s a brain drain and a time drain on your productivity!

Have a great week!

PS.  Call your Father in Law (or other-in-law, sibling, child, significant neighbor, friend or mentor) and let them know you are thinking of them and just how much they mean to you.  They can’t hear you think … say it out loud!

Christina

 

New Leaders: Got Power Stress?

3 Steps to LEVERAGE Power Stress for Leaders at All Levelsleverage stress

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!

Christina

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!

*Power Stress or Leadership Stress was originally described by Dr. Richard Boyatzis, et. al in Resonant Leadership

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Who is more likely to be in denial when it comes to feeling stress, a man or a woman?

STRESS:  The un-discussable in the room (for men, anyway)professional intimacy sketchnotes heather martinez

I recently had the pleasure to be invited to be the keynote speaker for the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Women in Business Leadership Conference (“Women Redefining Business”) where the keynote message was about communication, connection and courage as a pathway to Professional Intimacy:  The Key to Sustainable Leadership.  

The breakout session piggybacked on how business owners can leverage stress by learning how to have authentic conversations with their employees in order to avoid entrepreneurial burn out.

When I give this talk, I usually ask the audience for a raise of hands if they consider stress a problem for them at work (i.e., negative effect on productivity, experience physical stress-related symptoms and relationship problems like irritability).

When the audience is predominantly male, only about 30% of the men in the audience raise their hands.

This audience was 98% female, and about 80% of the audience raised said “Yes!” to is stress a problem for you at work.

Why such a large difference between men and women?

According to research published by the the American Psychological Association on gender and stress:

” … Men and women report different reactions to stress, both physically and mentally. They attempt to manage stress in very different ways and also perceive their ability to do so — and the things that stand in their way — in markedly different ways. Findings suggest that while women are more likely to report physical symptoms associated with stress, they are doing a better job connecting with others in their lives and, at times, these connections are important to their stress management strategies.”

The bottom line is whether you are a man or a woman, an entrepreneur, a senior manager or CEO, your unrecognized and untreated stress could quickly be the end of your career, your relationships and quite possibly your life as long as you ignore the symptoms or refuse to change your behavior.

While work/life balance is a good solution, I’m not convinced it’s the only solution.  There is another most surprising solution, that can be executed at work just about any time of the day and there’s zero financial cost.

A process I have developed over many years of working with highly successful business people whose steps are backed by scientific research and will reduce stress and prevent burn out.  Simply stated, you can execute the steps in quick and simple conversations and relationships at work.  I call it “Professional Intimacy: The key to becoming a Sustainable Leader (one who is built to last for the long haul).

There are three simple steps to Professional Intimacy … (a special thank you to Heather Martinez, who crafted the Story Map of my Keynote )

1. Connection – Know the answer to these four questions asked by Kevin Cashman, Author of Leadership from the Inside Out:

Who Am I?    Where Am I Going?  Why Am I Going There? and I’ll add Who is Going With Me?

2. Curiosity – When it comes to brain science, the truth is the same chemicals that are involved in a fearful are also involved when we feel curious or excited.  What’s the difference?  The story I tell myself to explain the situation, why it’s happening and what’ll be the result.  Asking better questions when it comes to making meaning of my environment will result in my responding rather than automatically reacting because I’ve assumed the worst case scenario (which is likely not the case, anyhow).

3. Communicate – Have the courage to communicate you care when it comes to your team.  Be a real human being, not some ivory-tower-untouchable-walk-on-water-CXO.  Vulnerability, letting people see you sweat, showing your emotions (I didn’t say wear your heart on your sleeve), asking someone “How are you doing?  What do you need right now?” when they appear to be having a rough day.  Oh yes, then shut up and listen … the most important part.  Doing this will build trust and respect, which will go both ways.  Try it, I dare you.

If you would like more information on how you can reduce, manage or leverage stress and avoid burning up or burning out in your career by using the 3 Key Principals of Professional Intimacy, join me for a free webinar replay available for two more days:    You can get more information or register here to get immediate access:  Free Webinar “What Your Brain Wishes You Knew About Leadership Stress:  Myths & Solutions”  – This full video is packed with practical strategies to reduce stress and feel happier and more satisfied at work  AND a special announcement at the end!

 

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How Leaders Use Brain-Based Learning to Manage Stress

When it comes to stress, AVOID is NOT a strategy if you want to be a Sustainable Leaderhead in the sand 2

It’s about time our leaders, ordinary and everyday or extraordinary leaders, are held accountable for a higher level of integrity and honesty (and vulnerability) than ever before.

This is NOT about executives attempting to be superheros, but rather about leaders learning it’s okay to be human.  Being human means having the skills and intuitive ability to acknowledge emotion (in yourself and in others), without breaching professional boundaries or letting your competition “see you sweat.”  Believe me, I get it.

The FIRST step you need to take is to be able to minimize, eliminate or leverage STRESS.   If “Avoid” is your strategy when it comes to stress, you will likely become a statistic:  “48% of newly hired or newly promoted executives get fired or quit before their 18 month anniversary.”  It’s not because they lack the technical skills to get the job done.  From my observation as an executive coach, it’s because lack of self-management, interpersonal and communication skills required in their new position.

Leaders must take responsibility for their own learning and professional leadership development in the areas of emotional intelligence and stress management.  In order to become a “built to last” or Sustainable Leader, you must first address STRESS … internal (which comes from the worries that are generated by your brain and keep you up at night) or external (direct pressures and spoken expectations from others).

For a free video “7 Simple Strategies to Eliminate, Reduce or Leverage Stress” enter in your name and your best email address to get access to the free video.  Then, choose one action to apply for 14 days … What did you notice about your focus?  The time you spent at work?  Your level of  effectiveness as a leader?