I’m having so many discussions with
people who say things like:
We are missing our revenue plan.
There is a lot of pressure on cost.
We are re-evaluating our strategy.
I am not sure what my budget is. We may have another layoff. I can’t commit to my plans. Things might change again. We are expecting another re-org. My key initiative has been put on hold. It’s really hard right now. Things are going really fast right now…
What if it doesn’t clear up soon? What if you don’t feel more in-control soon?
One of the things we don’t talk about often in business is the necessity and the value of coping.
Sometimes what makes executives successful is their ability to come to work again tomorrow!
If you are frustrated because things are in flux, and you are not making the progress you want:
- Give yourself some credit for coping
- Don’t expect it to get easier soon
- Pick a pace that you can operate at for a long time
Pick your pace
I am a cyclist. There are some hills that take you to the point of total system failure — you can’t breath, your heart races, your legs are on fire. The only problem is that that happens after five minutes, and it may take 30 minutes to ride up the thing!
So I force myself to pick a pace, one where even though it is still really hard, I can say to myself “I can do this all day”. When I get my thinking, my legs, and my heart rate and lungs calibrated to “all day”, then when I finally reach the top I have accomplished the task, and I am still not at the absolute end of my energy.
If you know the how long the hill is, you can push yourself to get to the top faster. But if you don’t know how long the hill is, you need a strategy so you don’t burn out on the way.
What is your pace that you “can do all day”? If there is no end in sight to the turmoil, how much physical and mental energy can you invest over an indefinite amount of time so that you can make it to the top no matter how long the hill is, and still have energy to go forward after you get there?
Get ahead of the competition
When the market gets easier and there are more opportunities, you want to have the energy and the resources to jump — to go fast again — while the competition has burned out, given up, or failed along the way.
It is your job to cope, and to keep going. It is your job to manage the turmoil and keep making forward progress in uncertain and challenging times. Otherwise you end up just working really hard, and not really moving the business forward, or getting anywhere personally.
I have had miserable jobs, and it is always interesting to note how much of the misery I put on myself vs. that which was strictly imposed or required by the job. You can actually make a pretty big change in how you feel about your job, by deciding how YOU will manage your energy.
Some ways to get up the hill:
- List all the things you are worried about. Are they all equally worthy of worry? Budget your worry. Don’t burn yourself out worrying about things that are not worth it.
- Identify at least one thing you will negotiate “away” and stop doing.
- Pick a single area to ensure success – one thing that you won’t fail at no matter what – and don’t let the uncertainty throw you off course. Complete that, then do the next one.
- Talk to your team – let them tell you what they think is hard about the current state. Don’t underestimate the value of letting them talk about this. Acknowledge the difficulty openly, then focus everyone on something they feel they can control and do well.
- Build your Personal Brand. How you act in difficult times does a lot to show the world your brand. Are you positive and in control, or are you changing your mind all the time, uncertain, all over the place? When you are stressed, are you treating people with respect or are you nasty?
- Don’t give up on your aggressive brilliant plans. I do some of my best problem solving on a long hill. Keep learning, keep thinking, keep building so that you are ready to jump when the obstacles clear.
- No matter how over-scheduled you may be, schedule some time to think every day.
For more insights on focusing your career energy, join our next monthly webinar on Avoiding Career Hazards, on June 24th.