Work-related stressors and the maladies they cause, like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and decreased mental health, are more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza, according to an article in The Atlantic.
Additionally, workplace stress can interfere with productivity, impair relationships, and even cause safety issues. We’ve all seen over-busy people walking along – even crossing streets – with their eyes focused on their cellphone and not what’s in front of them.
So how do you recognize when you’re under too much stress – when you are “overextended”? It starts by being self-aware. When you start to feel overwhelmed, pay attention to how you respond to your work and the people around you. When we’re overextended, our positive qualities may actually become “too much of a good thing” causing negative impact. For example, someone who is detail-focused and analytical may exhibit “analysis paralysis” when overextended. Someone who is typically creative and social may become impulsive and overly emotional under extreme stress. And the “people person” who brings harmony to every meeting may suddenly become stubborn and resistant. When Mr. Peabody becomes Attila the Hun it’s time to get a handle on stress.
Oh, right, you say. There’s work to be done and we’re down two people…I don’t want to lose my job…I just need to get through this month and then I’ll (fill in the blank): get back to my family, get back to my workouts, get back to my life.
OK, people. Listen up. Part, not all, but PART of the reason we’re in this environment is that we allowed it to happen. Just like Lucy and Ethel in that famous bit in the chocolate factory, the more we demonstrated a willingness to work more, work faster, sacrifice life balance for the sake of a pay raise or out of fear for our job, the faster the conveyor belt went. The 40-hour work week turned into 50, then 60. Vacations? Who has time? Off hours? What are those? Welcome to our 24 x 7 world of work.
So what to do? I say, let’s take back our lives. Let’s stop the insanity and lean out for a change. Here’s how.
1. Set boundaries. Establish a time after which you don’t take work phone calls or respond to work emails, texts, smoke signals, whatever. Manage expectations about your “work hours.”
2. Be willing to say “no.” When asked to do something with a clearly unreasonable deadline or without appropriate resources, explain the impact it will have on your current work. Offer alternative dates, suggest alternative resources.
3. Stop and pause. Do a personal check-in. Adjust priorities, if needed. Take a break.
4. Breathe. Deeply and often. Consider meditation. Take a walk in the park or along the beach.
5. Laugh. Find something to laugh about every day. It’s good medicine.
"If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it."
-George Burns (who lived to be 100)
Till next time,
Probably most of us have wondered, at some point in our lives, “who am I?” Or, as Stephen Colbert put it in his recent, comical, quest for self-discovery, “who am me?” However you ask the question, finding the answer by increasing your self-awareness can have tremendous benefits - in your working relationships, personal relationships, career and, well, your life overall.
The trouble is, most of the tools that purport to help us with self-discovery are actually aimed at fitting us into one of their predefined boxes, types, or labels. An example of this is the tool that Colbert talked about on his show – Myers-Briggs (MBTI). As described in the segment, MBTI divides society into 16 personality types. Types are made up of different combinations of 4 out of 8 different preferences: Introversion OR Extraversion (I or E); Intuition OR Sensing (N or S); Thinking OR Feeling (T or F); and Perceiving OR Judging (P or J). In Colbert’s case, his type is: INFP.
There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Can we really fit them all into only 16 personality types?
I’ve been working with people, personalities, and behavioral assessments for more than 20 years. I’ve learned through my work that it’s both limited and limiting to put people in neat little boxes. Think about it. People are a whole lot more complex (and interesting!) than that. At Lumina Learning, we recognize that personalities are not EITHER/OR, they’re AND. You can be an Introvert AND an Extrovert. You can be tactical AND still see the big picture. You can focus on tasks AND care about the people. And you can be driven at times by discipline AND at times by inspiration. It all depends on the situation. You may pull on certain qualities in your job that lie dormant when you’re at home. Or you may have an underlying quality (a “hidden gem”) that isn’t being used right now and is just waiting to be discovered and leveraged. Based on the latest research in psychometrics – the Big 5 – and the best of Carl Jung, the Lumina Spark assessment provides a more comprehensive, more personalized, and more usable portrait of you in all your uniqueness. You are so much more than what can be contained in a label.
That’s what Bruce Kasanoff, Ghostwriter and LinkedIn Influencer found when he took the Lumina Spark assessment. Read his experience here.
Then, if you want to know more about Lumina Spark and how it can help you understand yourself, others, and your full potential, contact me at kcolligan@PeopleThink.biz.
We all tend to gravitate toward people who are like us. This is true in our friendships, our relationships and, yes, our work teams. We hope that by focusing on those similarities there will be more harmony and, by extension, a better, more productive work environment. But think about what “harmony” is, in the true sense of the word. It’s NOT everyone singing the same note. It’s people singing different notes that creates harmony.
As a team leader, it’s easy to fall into like = harmony thinking. Avoid conflict. Get to the performing stage quicker. Shorten the decision cycle. And yet, without giving air to those different notes – different ideas, strengths, approaches, views – you miss the opportunity to create something innovative and new. Same ol’, same ol’ produces the same ol’, same ol’. Every time.
Consider this scenario.
Mike is about to meet for the first time with a temporary project team he’ll be heading up for the next several months. The members were assigned to him, so he had no input into their selection. He’s disappointed that he wasn’t asked to pull together a team from “his” people, who think just like him. Life would be so much easier. He hasn’t met any of the team yet, but he’s spoken with four of their managers and has made some notes.
Robert. Quick-thinking. Direct. Not afraid of conflict or challenging the status quo. Confident and decisive. Track record of meeting deadlines and staying within budget. Competitive. Task-focused.
Yolanda. Lots of ideas. Good at creating a vision and inspiring others to follow. Outgoing and friendly. Likes variety and flexibility. Tends to change topics quickly during discussions. Relationship-focused.
Gary. Quiet and reserved. Great listener. Works to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Good at coordinating efforts and maintaining strong relationships. Strong focus on values.
Barb. Analytical and detail-oriented. Excellent at ensuring all bases are covered. Processes information by asking questions. Lots of questions. Takes a systematic approach to decision-making.
Mike wonders how he will ever be able to meld these diverse styles together to complete the project. He worries that Robert will compete with his leadership, and that Barbara will get too caught up in the details to get anything done. And how will Yolanda and Gary work with the other two?
Mike decides that the only way forward is to embrace the differences instead of fearing them. And a magical thing happens. Yes, there are some conflicts at the start – as there are on all teams – but those conflicts, and the different approaches, perspectives, talents, ideas, and strengths harmonize into a final product that is far superior to anything Mike in his monotone world had ever seen. Because…
Yolanda created a vision.
Robert kept them on track.
Gary ensured they were heard.
Barb let nothing fall through the cracks.
Want to learn more about individual styles and the value each can add to your team? Contact PeopleThink: 415.440.7944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next time,