Stressed About My Stress

At the end of every calendar year, milestones, KPIs and endless demands become a game against the clock, many executives find themselves moving slower instead of faster, with the pressures of making the “right” decision resulting in non-decision. Second-guessing instead of productive movement becomes a cyclical trap.

Unfortunately, this decision paralysis is often incredibly damaging for two reasons. First, it causes your team to second-guess all of their decisions, making it almost impossible for them to stay productive. According to a recent study by Project: Time Off, surprisingly even the millennial generation gets just as trapped into “Work Martyrs” as any of the Boomers who have always been criticized for such actions. Check for yourself to see if you have ever thought any of the study’s most common excuses:
▪ “No one else at my company can do the work while I’m away.”
▪ “I want to show complete dedication to my company and job.”
▪ “I don’t want others to think I am replaceable.”
▪ “I feel guilty for using my paid time off.”

The demands of martyrdom almost never yield thriving businesses or happy leaders. More often, exhaustion, stress, anxiety, poor health, reduced productivity and relationship problems are the reward for the nonstop dedication.
Once we reach the space of “Work Martyr”, we are consumed with analysis paralysis, sometimes called decision paralysis. At this stage, we have two routes of escape (that’s right, only 2).

1. Reduce the sources of stress
2. Increase your ability to manage the effects of stress

Let’s do some math, a day has 24 hours in it and a week 168. The average professional now reports spending 72 hours in work related activities.

▪ 168 hours in the week
▪ 72 hours working
▪ Leaves 92 hours for rest, family, community, church, yard work, etc.

To be productive, experts advise getting a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night, so let’s assume you want to be as productive at work as you can and you follow that schedule (we know you don’t… but let’s pretend).

▪ 56 hours of sleep (8 hours/night)

Now divide your 36 remaining hours in the week to meet your other obligations. Not working, is it? That’s why 33% of Americans report stress so extreme that it is toxic resulting in serious, life threatening illnesses.

I believe in learning from the greatest thinkers of our time. In their book The Power Of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz share key ideas in how we can manage energy not time to unlock the potential for high performance and personal renewal simultaneously. The first and most important principle is that our most valuable resource is energy not time. Let me repeat that: the most important asset that we have is our energy, not our time. We make a critical error every time we manage our performance and our expectations based on the time available to us rather than scoping all projects and obligations based on the energy that is gained or expended through each effort. This simple shift in thinking can make such a difference in how we approach not only our work life, but our every day existence. It can transform a list of chores into a more meaningful and productive experience. It is only through careful management of our energy that full engagement is even a possibility.

Let’s face it: when you took on your leadership role, you accepted that you would be faced with an increased burden of stress. The good news is that there are formulae, templates and “codes” to shortcut the “suffer and learn by my own mistakes” painful route. The Xanadu Code is a thorough analysis of the stress triggers and support systems already in place, followed by a customized solution to minimize stress and maximize productivity, individually, as a team, as a company, to whatever level you deem critical to discovering your own Xanadu.