We all have heard or know of a CEO who has voluntarily resigned from a “prestigious” position. Ask them if they miss “it” at all and the message is consistent and clear, they have never been happier. They are new converts to life as ordinary human beings. An alien from a visiting planet might think that life begins when you’ve resigned as a CEO (of course with financial security, not an issue, they can comfortably enjoy their newfound freedom). Many of those left behind seem to be “clockwatching” until they too can be free.
The view from the top
Free from what exactly? Isn’t the top job the dream destination of the corporate world? This quote from an anonymous executive (interviewed by Harvard Business Review) puts a different perspective on it, “In my role, I’m the guy who catches it all. I can’t seem to get people to stand still and listen, and I can’t continue to take all the hostility. I don’t know how much longer I can last in this job“. Not quite the view from the top that some of us have in mind!
The stress and burnout implicit in the above are not just at the top. Hard times mean that everywhere, everyone has to do more with less. Often this means one (no doubt super-competent) individual holding down what used to be 5 people’s jobs. How? By doing the usual stuff-longer hours, more pressure, less time for family.
Focusing on personal energy has been proven to increase productivity and decrease burnout.
We convince ourselves that it’s temporary, that we can cope, for now. We dismiss the physical exhaustion, even illness, caused by the adrenaline rollercoaster. Mentally, we have difficulty focusing and thinking clearly. Emotionally, we are angry, irritable, negative, cynical, frustrated, and even explosive. Spiritually, we feel purposeless, alienated, and unfulfilled. Conditions which no incentive, car or overseas trip can make better.
Do you have a personal energy crisis?
Do you proudly boast about getting by on four to five hours of sleep or less a night? Skip meals? Eat at your desk, if you eat at all? Eschew gym or physical exercise as a luxury for those who have the time? Do you love the distraction provided by each new e-mail (as it gives you a new crisis to react to, instead of focusing on longer-term issues like strategy, reflection, or creative problem solving)?
Do you practice “last minute.com” on important documents?
Are you often irritable, volatile, or stressed at work? Do you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family? Do you find yourself never getting time to do what you are really good at and enjoy the most?
Even a couple of “yes’s” indicate an energy crisis! Fortunately, personal renewable energy is up to us. We can make more if we decide to. It sounds deceptively simple but focusing on personal energy has been proven to increase productivity and decrease burnout.
Get the basics right
It’s almost too obvious to mention, but without enough food, sleep, or exercise, most of us are cranky, if not completely useless. Hardly in a state to inspire the world around us!
2. Be nice. It’s good for you!
Savoring our accomplishments and expressing appreciation to others is actually good for us. They help us feel positive about life, others, and ourselves – which is the best defense against emotional stress and burnout.
Do the right stuff
Psychologists talk about overdoing and under being, getting so caught in a rut of have-tos that we never do the want- tos. We all get a kick out of doing what we love doing. So whatever you do “entrepreneur it“. Find a way to own your situation, making sure you integrate your values, strengths, and passions into your work.