My April column for the Kitsap Sun…
Have you ever been in a hurry to get to a meeting and couldn’t find a place to park?
You’re already running a little bit late because of being delayed at your office. The parking lot is full. You find a compact spot (for your non-compact car) and try to squeeze in. You do, but realize you can’t get out and the people next to you can’t re-enter their vehicles! You back out carefully and hope to find someone walking to their car. You do and realize they just forgot something and aren’t leaving. You’re in the midst of a frenzy.
You most likely have at least a few times been in this situation, especially if you go into Seattle or Bellevue once in awhile for business. There’s a certain level of chaos and frenzy that accompany this exercise. Ironically, it might also exemplify what many CEOs do on a daily basis. I call it the CEO Frenzy.
You don’t have to be a CEO or business owner to experience this plight. As technology has advanced, so has the furor of being a business professional. There’s more expectation to deliver results faster and be available more frequently. It can create an internal frenzy that causes anxiety and stress. Frenzy is defined as an uncontrolled state or situation. If you feel this way frequently during your week (and potentially into the weekend), keep reading.
This frenzy occurring from time to time is normal. It can’t be completely avoided, and is part of what you sign up for as a business owner. However, if it becomes a part of your daily routine, it will lead to burnout, bitterness, and ultimately poor performance. It will impact you, your employees, clients, and company profits.
Let’s find a way to mitigate the CEO Frenzy. I offer three strategies to significantly reduce this burden and keep you running in harmony and balance.
#1: Create a Buffer System. This is a strategy that I’ve recently implemented with the help of my own professional coach. I was famous for stacking meetings one right after another; even if it was just a phone call. If one ended early or was postponed, I’d find something else to fill its spot. I found that my days could be one lengthy run-on sentence! Sound familiar?
What I’ve done to temper this is to create “buffers’ in my calendar. In other words, I actually schedule down-time in my schedule to account for rejuvenation of mind. It’s as simple as putting a 15-minute calendar event called BUFFER right after each meeting. This allows you to slow down, clear your mind, and get mentally prepared for what’s next.
Here’s the deal: If you don’t take care of yourself mentally and emotionally duding the day, the last meetings of that day (and maybe the most important) will not be getting your best. We aren’t machines; in order to achieve peak performance and results, we need to have balance and energy throughout the day (and coffee doesn’t count!).
#2: Don’t over schedule: You’ve probably heard the expostulation that kids today are over-scheduled. Compared to when I are up in the 1970s, that’s a fact; and they don’t even set their own schedules!
When I work with clients, they often must produce their weekly calendars to me for review. They must include ALL commitments, including personal. What I find is that in almost every case, they have over-booked themselves. The consequence is that they are running overcapacity and something must give.
We all have a time capacity. If we shove too much in, one of two things happen. We either do everything inadequately or something gets completely dropped.
Be frugal and honest with your calendar, Include travel time as part of the process. Make it visual. And limit your commitments so that you can give your best to every activity. Finally, schedule to 80% capacity. By doing this, you are scheduling in the unexpected and it will reduce the frenzy.
#3: Control what you can control. In my car parking example (which has happened to me many times), I couldn’t control that the parking lot was full; I could only control how I responded to it. By becoming agitated and stressed, all I did was raise my own blood pressure and put myself in a less that optimum mindset for my meeting. It’s easier to apologize for the delay and laugh about the situation, than to go running in with papers flying and frantic.
In my experience, more than half of our frenzy comes from worrying or stressing about things that we can’t control – the weather, other people, technology, traffic, etc. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote, “You can be externally free and internally a slave…conversely you could be externally obstructed or even in literal bondage but internally free from frustration and disharmony.” In other words, don’t enslave your mind over things that you can’t control. You always have control of your thoughts, emotions, and responses. Focus on those to more efficiently (and happily) go through your day.
Bottom line: You will be challenged every day by the unexpected. It might be bad luck, unfair, poor timing, or any other number of things that you can’t control. Accept the circumstances for what they are – a part of the journey – and then keep moving forward.
I read a book about the mental part of golf. The author noted that professional golfer Chip Beck would always respond the same way to a wayward shot into the woods or water. He’d smile and say to himself, “You’ve got to love it.”
Friends, you’ve got to love what you’re doing and the best way to maintain that passion is to reduce the frenzy. You can do that by finding your own perfect “parking space” wherever you go.
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