How often do we truly pause from our busy lives to distress and re-energise? As I look through the calendars of my clients, I see a day back to back with meetings, and not a break in sight… not even for lunch and often not even time to go to the bathroom. And we are not much better in our ‘downtime’ – checking phones for emails, worrying about work, looking after our families, keeping up with friends. Busy has almost become part of who we are.
Put simply if we want sustained high performance this is not the way to go about it. We know that stress reduces our IQ by 10-15 points and tiredness affects all aspects of our performance, including creativity and problem solving by up to 50%. What we need to do is pause, reflect and consider every day, what are we doing for ourselves to recharge our batteries.
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.
Do you feel full of zest and raring to go? Do you start your week well, but as the week goes on, so your energy goes down? Or are you just plain exhausted, wondering if it’s your age, your kids or even the weather?
Most of us use our weekend to recover from the week we have had. But wouldn’t it be nice if you felt full of va va voom every day of the week, including your weekends?
The point is you can, you just need to understand what is draining your energy and fix it. For this you need look no further than your lifestyle habits.
I’ve always taken a holistic approach in my coaching and a view that we need our mind, emotions, body and spirit to be strong and balanced if we are to feel full of energy. Zenergos is certainly built upon that philosophy.
We often treat exercise and fitness like a vanity, something we do to shed a few pounds and look good in our clothes. But exercise is so much more valuable than that. Actually when you look at consistent high performers they have an unwavering stamina, and this they get from having good physical habits, particularly exercise.
However what most of us will say is that by the time we get home from work we simply don’t have enough time nor energy to exercise.
Here at Zenergos we would love you to make 2017 the year where you no longer de-prioritise your own well-being for the sake of work. The reality is, you will be far more effective and present in both your home and work life if you get into the physical habit of fitness and plan it into your diary.
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.
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.