How much energy do you waste through the week feeling stressed, frustrated and over reacting? These fight or flight responses, which are meant to be short lived and sporadic, are not only exhausting if felt for a prolonged period of time, they damage our performance and they stop really good people from becoming outstanding leaders.
Neuroscientist Dr Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, has found that when we suffer prolonged stress, we experience a deficit in our problem solving similar to a 10-15 point drop in our IQ which impacts our “higher level” thinking, such as logic, decision making, creativity and judgement.
So how do you manage your emotions when the pressure is high? Here are some of my top tips.
I’m fortunate enough to have spent my career working with some incredible leaders. These leaders have truly appreciated the significance of their role as the emotional steer – the person who sets an emotional climate where people can thrive. They have been the Chief Emotions Officer of their team.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having a manager who creates a negative climate, where fear, uncertainty and stress are the norm. Hopefully we have also worked for a leader who exudes enthusiasm, passion and warmth and who can only be described as an emotional magnet. These emotionally intelligent leaders, or Chief Emotions Officers, are the ones we want to stay working for and to whom we will give our best effort.
By being very deliberate about what you do and importantly when you do it, you will naturally achieve more through your week as you tap into this mental energy.
This realisation made me rethink how I prioritise and organise my week and, give or take the odd exception, I ruthlessly plan my day around my natural energy cycles and I would urge you to do the same.
Do you feel that you have the mental focus skills to stay energised and on track throughout your entire week, and the next week and so on? Or do you find that your focus waxes and wanes, maybe succumbing to the countless distractions, such as a ping from a new e-mail, a phone ringing or a request from a colleague etc?
The key to success is how well and how consistently you plan and prioritise your time. Those focused days rarely happen by chance. They happen because you have planned it that way, you knew what you had to do and you didn’t allow yourself to become distracted. It’s the difference between being proactive and not reactive.
Without a clear plan you are at the mercy of simply reacting to what you feel like doing and what situations pop up through the day. Read our tips on how to tap into a steady flow of mental energy.
Affecting as many as 1 in 4 adults every year in the UK and 1 in 5 in the US, mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression are the invisible issues we still won’t talk about. At work we put on a brave face, a stiff upper lip, but inside 25% of us are suffering, often in silence.
For companies, the financial cost of not supporting employees who are suffering mental health issues is enormous. Particularly if you consider the fact that they are the number one cause of workplace absence, let alone a direct hit on productivity. The UK alone loses 105 million working days each year due to stress, costing UK employers £1.24bn!!
So why do we have such a hard time talking about these problems when they affect so many?
What I’ve noticed in my work more and more over the past 10 years, is that really exceptional high achievers are struggling with lack of energy and overall wellbeing, something that has caught the eye of a few forward thinking companies.
I’ve just returned from delivering a talk about how we at Zenergos see the future of wellbeing to 650 Salesforce EMEA leaders in Barcelona. I have to say, I’ve come back feeling super excited.
Salesforce.com share my view that we need to catch up with how the world operates today and stop waiting until we get home from work before we start taking care of our wellbeing, but rather weave it in to every day, through the day. They are also passionate that as leaders, it is their responsibility to look after the wellbeing of their people and make sure that they support their team’s efforts to do the same.
The New Year is a time when many of us put our habits under a microscope and consider what we should do differently to be happier, healthier and feeling on top form.
At Zenergos we are all about building good habits for an energised life and I’d like to share with you some top tips to stay on track.
But first, why do these New Year’s Resolutions or healthier habits that we commit to doing, generally fall by the way side within weeks of being set. Understanding this is fundamental to succeeding this time round.
Much of the answer lies in the fact that to create a new habit needs a high level of willpower and this comes from the most easily exhaustible part of our brain – just underneath our forehead – the Pre Frontal Cortex (PFC), or our brains’ brain.
For over 20 years I have worked with some incredible Leaders and Teams and what I have noticed over this past decade, is that it is our top talent that are now in most danger of burning out.
My mission as a coach has always been to help people re-energise and build resilience for high performance and rather than crash into the weekend to hibernate, to recharge by enjoying quality down-time with the people and doing the things outside of work that really matter.
By distilling my coaching techniques down into an App, Al and I, with the help of our team, have created a way to help every employee from the CEO down to the junior developer.
Are you in danger of burning out your top talent?
A senior HR colleague of mine said to me the other day that what frustrates her most, is that we seem increasingly to take our top performers and then load them up until they become mediocre.
This really struck a chord with me and from my experience certainly rang true. More and more research is showing that, particularly over the last decade, the people in organisations at the greatest risk of burnout are indeed this top talent. Nada Kakabadse, from Henley School of Business, said employers were often unaware that their best staff were suffering as a result of hard work. And it’s easy to see why.
Just because in our digital 24/7 world where we have the flexibility to work when we want to, this doesn’t mean we have to work all the time. Company leaders need to lead by example and show the importance of time-off.
With Rio just around the corner, imagine you are a top athlete competing in a 100 metre sprint. You’ve put in all of the preparation; you’ve trained hard, eaten well, recovered your energy, you are at the top of your game! You run, you win. The crowd cheers. Success!
Now imagine you have to race again…and again…with little time to recover. Would your performance in your second and third races be as good if you have no time to rest in between? Of course not!