She’s not fighting for her life!

In fairness to the Daily Mail’s Jason Groves the headline is the sub-editors’ and Groves immediately clarifies she’s fighting for her political not her actual life. The problem we all face is that our bodies are not great at telling the difference.

So, when did work last make you breathless, heart pounding and sleep deprived? Does it happen a lot? Do those symptoms help you make clearer and faster decisions the next day at work? Thought not.

Let’s take a second to consider what’s going on when work pressure strikes. The amygdala is an almond shaped bunch of neurons sat deep in your temporal lobe ready to sense danger and trigger the fight or flight response. When work beings to dominate to the extent that it becomes your identity, the risk of catastrophe there can feel like a threat to your very existence.

When you’re sat in a meeting feeling stressed, the fact that sprinting away or worse still, punching someone is (rightly) frowned upon. Your pumping adrenaline and elevated heart rate have nowhere to go and you fizz away stressed to the max with all the negative health and work performance impact that brings.

Most can rationalise this but are ill equipped to reverse it. Consider this: When we talk about work/life balance we often frame the conversation in terms of time. Now I’m working, now I’m not. But phones, global projects and relentless pressure make it almost impossible to close one zone and step into other. Here’s a thought. Try thinking about work/life balance in terms of purpose rather than time.

I find my clients who make work a part of their life rather than its entirety are better able to access positivity nurtured outside the expectations of work. As a result they keep their cool, better perspective and perform better through the intense and chronic pressure that today’s careers can bring. So where might you draw your positivity from?

One person I am coaching recommended I read “Can’t hurt me” by ex-Navy Seal David Goggins. He talks a lot about his belief that humans tend to quit when they reach just 40% of their capacity. To spur him to greater achievement when hitting ‘the wall’ in an ultra-marathon event he will tap into his cookie jar. Its a set of memories he cherishes. They describe times where he’s succeeded in the past over seemingly herculean odds and diverse aspects of his life. Some work related, some not. Those successes remind him of who he is and what he is capable of. For him it turbo charges his performance when he needs it most. For others it can bring clearer thinking and the avoidance of panic.

At the core of this approach is a reminder of your worth as a person rather than just a worker or leader.

Remember. You’re not fighting for your life. Stay happy and productive.

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