Monday, October 24, 2020
Hey, I Can Take It!
- I take work home most evenings and weekends.
- I feel anxious if I'm out of touch with my people.That's why I always have my cellphone on.
- I check my emails any time I have a spare moment.
- The only way I can get any of my own work done is by going in early or leaving late.
- The people who work for me don't seem to have much initiative. I have to keep pointing them in the right direction.
- I am always in meetings. It irritates me, but you have to stay in the loop or decisions are made without your input.
- Travel is part of the job. In my case, it's a major part. I'm probably away more than I'm home.
- We're all rushed off our feet. I can't delegate. There's no one with the time to do more.
- I'm always on the lookout for ways to do things faster or save myself some effort.
- Making the numbers is what business is all about. You don't do that, you're not worth your pay.
- I rarely get to take all my vacation. When I do, it takes me most of it to stop worrying what's going on back at work.
- I feel best when I'm busy. I get anxious if I don't have lots to do and deadlines to meet.
If you said "yes" to nine or more of these descriptions, you're in serious workaholic doodah. Between six and nine is still pretty bad karma. The ideal answer would be none.
Speed and pressure are addictive. They set off brain chemicals that make you feel alert and alive. They give you a short-term high. Nature needed to make humans go all out sometimes. Maybe when a sabre-toothed tiger was about twenty feet behind, or some ugly cave guy was starting to lift his club. No point then in feeling slow, weak or passive.
Of course, you pay for it later, but in the caveman world that hardly mattered. You could sleep off the effects (if you survived). It didn't happen too often. Maybe you even got to brag about it.
Today's leaders operate on overdrive the whole time. If the pressure drops, they feel anxious. As soon as the high is gone, payment falls due. Quick! Grab some more pressure! Get another high. Restore what's come to feel normal.
The pressure is real. You can't simply turn it off. You aren't imagining it, but you don't have to make it worse either. "Taking it" isn't a badge of honor. After a while, it's a sign you've lost a sense of proportion — or worse.
The first and most important step in Slow Leadership is to stop sleeping with the enemy. Don't add to the pressure by inviting it in.
Breaking any addiction is tough. Cold turkey is painful and frightening. You'll maybe need help and support. But it's going to be worth it. There's no chance whatever of breaking the cycle of pressure and workaholic responses until you do.
What would you rather take? More of the same or the first step to a way out?
What you say is true to many people's experience. This site is about solutions: in many cases distinguishing between what we need as leaders and what fashion tries to put on us.
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