Posts Tagged ‘Worry’

How to Beat Workplace Burnout Like a Marathoner

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

Hidden in the canyons of Mexico’s Copper Canyon lives a shy tribe of people called Tarahumara, or the Running People. The Tarahumara live quiet lives, growing corn and beans and living in family groups in huts and caves often perched precipitously on the mountain cliffs. They are also all ultra-runners.

Marathon-Runners---Black-Silhouette-SunsetAt social gatherings and celebrations, the Running People will conclude the festivities with a friendly footrace. A footrace up to 200 miles, that is. For a guy like me that is out of breath after four miles on the treadmill, the thought of these people running through mountain passes in handmade sandals sounds more like a mirage than a reality.

In Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, he marvels that in the midst of a 100-mile ultramarathon they, “churned up the slope like kids playing in a leaf pile.” Laughing. Smiling. Somehow enjoying a 100 mile run. For the Tarahumara, running wasn’t a chore—it was a time to connect with their world and with one another.

Now lets step back from the Copper Canyon and into your city, your home and your workplace. You’re fed up with the job you used to love. Coworkers you’ve collaborated with for years are grating on your nerves. Projects that excited you in the beginning seem stale and dusty. Like the American runners racing against the Tarahumara, you’ve burnt out, and you’ve got 150 miles left to run.

How do you return to the blissful state where you began? Mental toughness.

I know, I wish I had a different answer too. But oftentimes the only element in our day that we can actually control is our attitude. And, when the boss is happy and the workload is light it’s easy to stay upbeat. Throw in an irate customer, a missed deadline and some extra rush-hour traffic, and then you have a training ground for mental toughness. Here’s a few tips from the Running People themselves

Take Shorter Steps—your burnout might be the result of overextending yourself. Instead of focusing on everything you need to get done this week, focus on the five things you need to get done today. Break larger projects up into small pieces and knock them out one at a time.

Lose the Shoes—After researchers studied indigenous groups like the Tarahumara, they discovered these groups experienced far less injury than Westerners with hi-tech and cushy running shoes. At work, sometimes the very things we think we need are the things creating problems. Have you gotten bogged down in party planning drama or chasing down someone by email instead of picking up the phone? Maybe it’s time to pick up speed by simplifying your processes. Lose the shoes.

Look to your elders—Would you believe that among the Tarahumara, the best runners are often the oldest!? Though it seems contrary to nature, it’s true. The runners with years of experience have honed their speed, footwork, diet, and strategy. The same is true of great leaders in any industry. If you want to avoid burnout, begin to note the habits of those a few years down the road, and a few rungs up the ladder from where you find yourself.

Never run alone—In Tarahumara culture, racing is a means of bringing the community together. How would our workplaces change if we viewed collaborative work in the same way? Sure you might feel like the project is about as fun as running uphill in the boiling Mexico sunlight, but there is some solidarity in enduring it together. Find at least one person at your workplace who you know you can lean on during a particularly tough day. But be prepared to return the favor.

Mental toughness is choosing these attitudes and practices over the feeling of burnout. It doesn’t matter if you’re running 100 miles or just trying to make it through the last 100 days of school with a rowdy classroom. When nothing around you seems to be changing, change your attitude. After all, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

How to Think Your Way into an Emotional Meltdown

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

This is a follow-up blog to the wildly popular post from March 18th, 5 Steps to a Complete Emotional Breakdown by Wednesday. Now, if you’re ready for a real game-changer, you’ll love this week’s blog.

As the title suggests, you can trigger your own anxiety attack simply by the way you think. Here’s a few ideas to ponder that will shift you brain into stress mode.

  1. The glass is always half-empty—I would venture that most emotional breakdowns begin with an onslaught of negativity. Sure, things might be stressful at work, but if you keep a positive outlook, you’ll rarely suffer a breakdown. On the other hand, negativity keeps your mind focused on what’s going wrong, what you don’t have, and how unfair it all is—instead of refocusing on what’s going right and coming up with creative solutions.
  2. Forget about how good you’ve got it—After dwelling on negative and pessimistic thoughts, don’t stop to appreciate that you have a job, a family, or good health. Thankfulness improves your mood by lowering stress hormones in the brain, according to a study at the University of California, Davis. Avoid gratitude by focusing on what you don’t have—or finding fault with the things that are going good in your life.
  3. Use the three magic words—Always. Never. Worst. Attach one of these modifiers to a pessimistic thought to catapult your self-esteem and outlook on life to new lows. Now of course, our reality rarely is so extreme as to be “the worst” and we don’t really know that we will “always” get passed over for a promotion because the boss has “never” liked us, but using these three words regardless of reality injects these thoughts with more power and influence in our lives. A few additional magic words—Everything, Nothing and Everyone—the more general and far-reaching the better.

Dale Carnegie says, “ Happiness doesn’t depend on any external circumstances, it is governed by our mental attitude.” In the same way, I believe anyone can turn a fairly good set of circumstances into a nightmare by focusing on the negatives, letting their thoughts run to extremes and believing these thoughts more that they believe any positive thoughts. I hope these tips will get you started.

5 Steps to a Complete Emotional Breakdown by Wednesday

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

We’ve all got a little stress in our lives—and research actually shows that to be a good thing. But I’ve learned over the years that stressors at work or home can quickly go from productive to paralyzing. Here, I’ve gathered a few tried and true practices that could trigger a total breakdown in a zen master.

  1. Sleep Less– If you want to be more stressed, this is the easiest way to get there. Sleep deprivation causes the brain to raise the stress hormone even if there is not another stressor present. And, since sleep is the time that the brain uses to store and discard the day’s memories, you’ll be scattered and forgetful after burning the candle at both ends.
  2. Get an Extra Shot of Espresso– If you’re feeling a little sluggish after Step 1 (and believe me, you will), it’s ideal to try to jump start your brain with a boost of caffeine from another cup of coffee, Diet Coke, Red Bull, or one of those energy drinks with names that sound like heavy-metal rock bands. For more stress, this is perfect. Caffeine releases adrenaline, so your body will react to any stressor with a more dramatic response than you may anticipate.
  3. Be Available 24/7– It can be difficult to keep the anxiety going after 5 or on the weekends, so make sure to constantly be checking email, texts and phone messages for a new “hit” of stressors during the time others might use to unplug and recover. You may want to sleep with your Blackberry turned on right next to your bed, so even in the middle of the night you are ready for a new stressor to interrupt any chance of decent rest and get your exhausted and over-caffeinated brain churning.
  4. Ask “What If?”- These two little words are almost guaranteed to reignite any stressor—old or new—in the brain. By focusing on all the possible problems in the future and old problems and concerns from the past you effectively prevent your mind from working on solutions and taking action in the present. With any kind of decision-making this will amp up your stress level in mere minutes.
  5. Become a Lone Ranger– Realizing that others care about you and are willing to help you achieve your goals will strengthen your relationships and personal confidence—significantly lowering your stress. If you’re sharing your stressors with someone who can supply you with a new perspective, support, and encouragement, you may actually avoid a breakdown altogether. Instead, it’s best to keep your anxiety to yourself and try to tackle all of your problems without any outside help.

I don’t know about you, but my pulse is already feeling a little faster after reading through that list. And guess what? This is only part one! Stay tuned for How to Think Your Way into an Emotional Breakdown.

The Great Thief

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Dave Weber - CEO/President

I am convinced that there are many people in the world with great lives and they don’t realize it. From pop stars to politicians to presidents – they have it “all” and yet they can’t fully enjoy it.

Why? Because there is a thief running loose in their life and they don’t even realize they are being robbed.

You‘ve seen these people…

The athlete with the seven-figure income and countless endorsements isn’t happy because he hasn’t won the “ultimate” championship game.

The CEO whose company is in the Fortune 500, who owns a Mercedes 500, and box seats at the Daytona 500, but market share isn’t at 85% yet.

The actress with the best leading men and a long list of hit movies or plays but doesn’t have “the” award.

The thief is stealing their joy. Their satisfaction. Their contentment.

This thief, however, is not one that is limited just to the celebrities or corporate heroes of our time. Oh no. It can invade the lives of everyday people like you and me too.

The stay at home mom with three great kids who can’t see beyond the stained carpet and where the dog chewed the couch.

The supervisor with the wonderful team at the office, a nice home, and a good marriage but struggles everyday with anger or envy at the sight of the other supervisor pulling into the company parking lot in that new BMW.

The thief? Believe it or not, is what we choose to focus on.

When we focus on what we don’t have, or what we lack, or on situations that displease us, our thoughts get cloudy, our minds get murky and we fixate on what is “wrong” refusing to enjoy life until that is “fixed”. As a result we miss out on so many blessings because we are not really “seeing” them. We are looking at what we lack or focusing on what is “not right”.

The defense for this thief? Take nothing for granted and be thankful for everything. Learn to go through life with an attitude of gratitude and you have a security system that this thief cannot penetrate. You deserve to enjoy your great life!

Resiliency – Part 4

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Here are the specific rationale for the resilient coping strategies and negative coping strategies I promised from my last blog.

Resilient Coping Strategies

  • Breathing deeply. Slow, deep breaths give your body more oxygen and can produce a calming and focused effect.
  • Church/religious activities. Attending church or other religious activities can provide support.
  • Cooking. Some find great joy in preparing food. The rhythmic motion of chopping vegetables or the aroma of freshly baked bread can be very soothing.
  • Exercising. In addition to keeping you fit, exercise can be a great stress reliever and a great coping strategy. When you body is fit and healthy, coping with stressful situations will be easier.
  • Spending time in nature. Take time to notice the natural beauty around you by taking a walk in a park. Merely getting away from your stresses and finding peace and relaxation, even if only for a few minutes each day, can be beneficial.
  • Support groups. You may feel as if you are the only one dealing with stress and depression; however, you are not alone. Look for support in your area. These groups can be formal groups established in the community, informal groups in your neighborhood.
  • Talking to others. Don’t underestimate the power of talk. Talking about your thoughts and feelings can be very useful. Even if the person with whom you are talking cannot fix the problem, the act of putting your emotions into words can be helpful.
  • Volunteering. When you give back to others, whether you volunteer to work with children the homeless, elderly populations, or at a local animal shelter, you find out just how strong you are. Visit www.volunteermatch.org for opportunities in your area.
  • Writing/journaling. Put your thoughts and emotions on paper. Writing can help you to sort out how you are feeling. You don’t have to show what you have written to anyone. Keeping a journal can help you track your moods.

Negative Coping Strategies

  • Eating in excess or not enough. Eating or bingeing when stressed is a common but ineffective coping strategy. Not eating enough can be a sign of depression. Both eating patterns are maladaptive and should be replaced with resilient strategies.
  • Not talking. Keeping feelings bottled up inside is not a beneficial way to cope with problems. When people do not talk about their feelings, they become consumed with the negative, which makes a problem seem larger and less manageable.
  • Self-injurious behaviors (e.g., self-cutting, drinking alcohol, taking pain killers, reckless driving, etc.). These behaviors are very serious. They are sometimes a cry for help, but engaging in these behaviors even one time can be fatal.
  • Withdrawing. Individuals might feel that they need to keep to themselves and not burden others with their problems when they are feeling stressed; however, the opposite is true. Withdrawing form others and/or the problem will only make the problem worse.