Productivity and performance is more likely to be higher when you are energized. Feeling stressed and sluggish reduces focus and makes work hard. Have you considered that the reason why success takes ‘hard work’ is because you are plowing through so much resistance? Resistance is created when:
1. You don’t like your work
2. You are feeling stressed and pressured
3. You are worried about your job
4. You are afraid of change or new challenges
5. You are just plain…tired and drained
Did you know that sitting at the computer for hours at a time is a health hazard? It contributes to a stiff neck, knots in your back and shoulders and it is highly likely that your breathing is very shallow under these conditions. Shallow breathing is stimulating your stress response and it not allowing healthy oxygenation of your blood – this is certainly not going to help you to think clearly. A brain that is poorly oxygenated and stressed will not only reduce your performance – it will reduce your memory. None of this will contribute to your happiness, to say the least.
Clarity is powerful and is a primary ingredient to performing at your best. It is poorly understood and generally not a feature of most people’s strategies. Why? Because we are too busy…being busy. We take pride in taking, “massive action.”
Yet, if you are not clear about where you want to go and why, IF you arrive at your chosen destination at all you will likely find it was not the solution you were seeking. IF you even make it to your goal, you may find that you wasted much time, energy and money and made unnecessary mistakes – a.k.a. “learning” by trial and error – along the way.
Why do this? Why do we typically do this?
1. It’s because we don’t know what we don’t know.
2. We have not been taught the energy efficient way of creating and innovating with intention.
3. We believe it takes “hard work in order to be successful.”
4. We really don’t know what we really want.
5. We don’t know who we really are and what our authentic, heart-felt vision is.
There are other reasons; these are five significant ones. We tend toward massive action without insight because we are not used to the idea of reflection, restoration and we don’t know and trust ourselves. We don’t listen to our own inner intuitive voice.
Does success require stress and hard work as a means to reach your goal? I say, “no” and there is even objective neuroscience to support my belief and experience. “Hard work and stress” is a type of paradigm or mindset.
I have had conversations with several people over time regarding whether obtaining peace of mind was a hazard to ambition. I have read articles that argue that if we become peaceful we will become complacent. It is this type of belief that drives, “hard work” as a social construct.
From a brain standpoint, the left-brain will tend to initially thrive under this perception. I say perception as perception really does, “create reality”. Perception is ‘how’ we see life. It is the filter through which we create and respond to the world and it is subjective – not objective. The left-brain loves external world action-taking.
I say that it initially thrives on this action-taking because if we focus too much on activity without slowing down to reflect and rest, we will burn out, work will indeed feel ‘hard’ and we will be stressed.
Now here’s the apparently little known double-edged sword…excessive stress and hard work without rest and restoration damages our brain. Chronic stress is even associated with memory loss and disease. Now, how do you think this will impact your productivity in the long-run?
Can you see that loss of well-being and memory can lead to increased overhead costs…as in increased health bills and higher absenteeism? How about employee turnover due to frustration? The truth is, people perform better when they are happier. We need to include space for reflection and creativity in our workplace.
Sleep is apparently a little known secret to good leadership that is critical to high performance and well-being. It is not just for beauty rest; there are plenty of leadership and health reasons for getting a good night’s sleep.
It has unfortunately become acceptable and even encouraged in our society to ‘stay busy’. Nature cycles and human beings are a part of this nature. When we disrupt our natural sleep cycles in favor or ‘getting more done’ we actually become less effective. Typically, because we don’t take time to reflect on what is purposeful and important to us, we often find ourselves doing things that are not really relevant to our own goals and dreams.
Did you think, ‘what goals and dreams?’ Some of us have lost sight of what is truly important to us.
We become addicted to ‘to-do’ lists without holding a clear endpoint goal in mind. This is energetically inefficient and draining. There’s typically no passion in this and thus it becomes hard work instead of enjoyable. It can also take much longer to do when we are not focused. Also, because our society tends to devalue self-nurturance, play and creative relaxing pursuits, many people feel guilty or invalidated by those around them when they attempt to live with more balance and restoration.
Well, it takes courage and vision to create space in your life so that you can stay healthy – spirit, mind and body. It takes courage to listen to your heart above the noise of the many distractions vying for your attention and your money. And it will take courage and focused attention to slow down in the evening early enough to get your mind and body prepared to go to sleep at a decent hour. Here are 3 benefits to encourage you to consider how sleep can help you to become a better leader:
Emotional Intelligence is the mind of the heart, the right-brain in metaphoric terms. Realize that language has its limitations and speaking in terms of the English language, subtleties can be lost – such as having only one word for, ‘love’. When culture moved away from communicating with images, we also moved away from an appreciation of what the right-brain has to offer us as a human civilization. This is unfortunate as our feelings are powerful influencers over the quality of our lives.
We lost the language of the heart to a great degree. Symbolism and imagery, specialties of the right brain, allowed us to use our individual imaginations more consciously and to connect easier with our feelings. When we only live in our left-brain logic, the attempt to circumscribe words into ‘black or white’ meaning, we really lose much of the richness and depth to human relationship and life. We tend to try to live only in our heads. Just think – where would the head be without the body and its heart? They need each other.
Logic and our left-brain are only a part of the equation; we need both hemispheres to attain sustainable joy and happiness. The tendency as a culture – as a human race in general – to deny and repress our emotion and feeling is one reason why we are so emotionally UN-intelligent. It is the primarily reason why so many people still live, as Henry David Thoreau said,
…. lives of quiet desperation.
We can change this. We do not have to live life like this. There are many benefits from embracing your right-brain ‘heart’ including creating a vision for your life that is purposeful and being better able to relate to others. We have the power to ‘NeuroReInvent’ our self. Now this is innovation! It’s innovation on our outdated attitude of belittling personal growth and development as if you must have ‘something wrong with you’ if you raise your hand that you need more emotional intelligence or self-awareness. Truth is, we all do.
We, human beings, love stories. One of the all time favorite theme is, ‘The Hero’s Journey’. Adventure stories and the lessons from ‘fairy tales’ were, and still are, at the top of my list of favorite movies, books and conversations. This is why movies like, ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ and even more contemporary movie settings in the ‘adventure’ genre are so popular. Too often we only live vicariously through the movies and lives of others. We see this journey in others yet remain blind to our own personal hero or ‘shero’ journey.
A facet of ‘self-awareness’ is recognizing that we are all on this journey. Our lives are an adventure of self-discovery, other-discovery and life-on-earth discovery. This includes the work that we do in the world. Do you perceive your work as a ‘hardship’ or a place to uncover your true potential? Do you see it as stressful, or simply a challenge to expand your vision for your life? How you perceive your self and your experience will determine how you respond to it – to your life.
We are all a hero on a journey and our journey defines our message. Take notes along the way so that you can then share your lessons.
I see a lot of unhappiness coming across the airways. I hear messages about what’s wrong with ‘us’. There are an awful lot of people at the office and generally, scrambling to ‘fix’ themselves in some way, shape or form. Here’s a novel thought – ever think about the fact that you are simply on a ‘Hero/Shero Journey?’
It seems to me that many people are short on time and long on things to do. This certainly was an issue of mine also at one time. What I learned during those years was, time wasn’t the issue as much as it was energy and focus. Lack of clarity and reflection time often drains the brain.
When we are not clear about where we want to go and “why”, we waste a lot of our energy and without passion and clarity, you are not likely to have much productivity. You may certainly have plenty of activity, but these are not the same thing; long hours often don’t equal productivity.
I see this over activity as a type of “addiction”. I sometimes hear people say that they “can’t sit still”, that they feel that they “should” be busy. We have worked our way up to frenzy with ADD type symptoms in our culture. This is no way to live or work. We would get more done in less time by making time to reflect, rest and have some fun. One reason why innovation is in short supply is that we are too busy to slow down to let our creative juices flow.
A busy mind is not very creative. When we give our left busy brain a break, and intentionally create space for mindfulness practice by engaging our right brain more and resting the left our productivity improves. Breathing deeply and making time to gain clarity about our strategy, projects and what is purposeful for us will allow us to experience:
Emotional intelligence is beginning to be recognized as a powerful contributor to business intelligence – “soft” skill or not. I’m all for respecting the intellect and I’m all for respecting our intuitive, feeling mind as well. I have a book on order, “Descartes Error”, by Antonio R. Damasio. I’m looking forward to reading it, as Damasio studies emotion and the brain.
I realized years ago, that there was erroneous rational conclusion in the statement that Descartes made, “I think therefore I am”. Feelings define our “state” more than thinking. Thinking can trigger the feeling state, but it is feeling that drives our mood, our action and powerfully impacts our decisions. It is feeling that when ignorantly handled create dysfunctional cultures and repression and causes lack of self-control and fear.
Our emotions cloud our vision if they are murky. If they are stagnant, we become like a repugnant cesspool over time. Emotion and feeling were meant to flow, just as water and life flows. Water is a symbol for emotion. Emotion is “energy in motion”. Ironically, the less skillful people are with their emotional intelligence, the more volatile, angry and inauthentic they tend to be.
What are some of the personal and business issues that show up in our lives when we fear and repress our feelings?
1. Emotional volatility (Paradoxically with repression, the dam bursts periodically)
2. Ineffective communication and tendency toward relationship dysfunction
3. High blood pressure and other chronic health issues
4. Tendency toward lack of clarity of one’s vision and purpose and the vicious cycles of stress
5. Lack of inner peace, confidence
Believe me, this is the short list; there’s lots more. It’s more than challenging to be an inspirational leader or to enjoy your work when you are blind to what you “don’t know that you don’t know” is limiting your true potential. A big chunk of these unknown factors are our emotional blind spots. These misperceptions are like “cataracts of the heart and mind”. It’s the undercurrents of those stagnant, “don’t talk about it” feelings that make them bigger than life.
Our leadership “true potential” is not realized simply by inspiring other or feeling inspired or just having more information; knowledge is not really power until it is applied. Recognition or an “aha” are only nice, interesting tidbits until you muster up the courage to make the change. Courage is a funny thing; it does not mean the absence of fear. It is primarily an intention to feel fear, but to go ahead and proceed anyway. Understanding the source of FEAR, mostly Fictitious Evidence Affecting Reality in our brain, can help to alleviate it.
To me, courage and leadership go hand in hand. Leadership often requires one to step out of the proverbial comfort zone and guide the way into new and sometimes uncharted territory. It is also an act of courage at times to deal with one’s own blind spots so that growth for both the individual and the team can happen. Leaders need to lead by example not just by charisma, if real change and sustainable improvement is going to be made. Leaders need to get comfortable with change or else they need to stop calling themselves, “leaders”.
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly, ~Henri Bergson
What is the challenge that makes change so, well, challenging? Why do we try to keep our self, “just the way we are?” In a nutshell, it is our perception about “feelings”. We have unwittingly conditioned – yes conditioned – ourselves to fear our feelings. Feelings are associated with “states” of being. Feelings come to surface when we are in the midst of change. Avoiding feeling is to our own detriment. Here are a few interesting points about feelings.
Reaching true potential is easier said than done. We’ve conditioned our brain and mind to trust outside of our self. Once I garnered the courage to color outside of the boundaries of what I was “informed” from those around me to be “true”, I really began to grow. Here’s the catch: I had to learn to trust myself. It’s amazing for me now to notice just how much we are willing to let “science” or others dictate to us what works for us and what doesn’t. Actually, there is much trial and error going on, even in science. And then there is perception, meaning, one authority says “X” and one will say “Y” about the same outcome.
So who to believe? I would believe my own experience before I would research – and of course, research has its place. It does help the logical mind to process and put tangible structure to the concept. The lesson is to allow space for “both”, instead of either/or, black or white. We can better own our power though if we are willing to:
1. Rest and renew our minds
2. Reconnect with our heart to uncover our core values – and recognize that we evolve
3. Reflect on new ideas, does it fit our current model? Does our model need to evolve? Does it align with our values? Do our values still support and expand our genius, joy, and inner peace?
After all, science can’t even define or explain gravity – it still affects our daily lives. Just because you can’t explain it intellectually doesn’t mean you will not hit the ground hard if you jump off of a tall building. Currently, most people are simply doing what the late psychologist William James said:
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”