STOP STRESS­ING AND GET YOUR LIFE BACK

ARE SHOW THE IN CRACKS THE MAN­AGE­MENT START­ING TO OF YOUR BUSI­NESS, AND YOUR LIFE? IT’S TIME FOR SOME IN­TER­VEN­TION, SAYS FIONA CLARK, BE­CAUSE SHE HAS SEEN WHAT STRESS CAN DO TO PEO­PLE.

NZ Business - - CON­TENTS -

Are the cracks start­ing to show in the man­age­ment of your busi­ness, and your life? It’s time to in­ter­vene, says Fiona Clark. She’s seen what stress can do to peo­ple.

W e live in a world of ‘busy­ness’; a world where there’s not enough time to get things done.

For small to medium busi­ness own­ers there seems to be a never end­ing ‘ to do’ list and it never stops. We’re al­ways think­ing about busi­ness and we don’t get the lux­ury to com­pletely switch off and step away from it.

Over the years I’ve seen the im­pact of stress and what it can do. My first ca­reer was nurs­ing. I was a sur­gi­cal and in­ten­sive care nurse, and car­dio-tho­racic was one of my ar­eas of clin­i­cal spe­cialty.

How­ever, what I saw on a daily ba­sis was the ef­fect of stress on peo­ples’ hearts and health.

It’s only now, many years later, that I can still see that im­pact through the busi­ness own­ers I work with in my coach­ing/con­sult­ing busi­ness.

I see many peo­ple stressed, over­whelmed, and frus­trated at where they’re at in their busi­ness. Most peo­ple have set high stan­dards for them­selves and where they ‘should’ be. They ‘should’ have more clients; they ‘should’ be mak­ing more money; they ‘should’ be do­ing bet­ter than they are by now.

While I am all for set­ting goals, KPIs, tar­gets and clear de­fined plans with ac­tion on how to get there, in re­cent years I’m also telling my clients to ‘be kinder to your­self’.

We’re the ones putting our­selves un­der pres­sure – and is it to match our ex­pec­ta­tions, or are we com­par­ing our­selves to others?

So let’s look at some of the com­mon stresses, and how to know when it’s go­ing too far.

YOUR BUSI­NESS STRESS CHECK:

Do you recog­nise any of th­ese symp­toms? • Lack of money and tight cash­flow. • Work­ing long hours – 50 hours or more. • Work­ing week­ends and most nights – and it’s be­com­ing ‘nor­mal’. • It’s hard to pri­ori­tise be­cause ev­ery­thing seems ur­gent. • Not enough money to pay the bills or taxes. • Get­ting frus­trated with staff and clients. • Feel­ing the phys­i­cal ef­fects – high blood pres­sure, stom­ach ul­cers, headaches, high choles­terol, on more med­i­ca­tion now than five years ago, etc. • Feels like you’re on a tread­mill and it never stops.

If you can re­late to the above, then it’s a good time to stop; to ‘stage an in­ter­ven­tion’!

We can only han­dle so much be­fore our bod­ies start to say ‘enough is enough’. That’s when busy stressed busi­ness own­ers or high achiev­ing cor­po­rate pro­fes­sion­als some­times end up in the car­diac ward hav­ing a triple by-pass op­er­a­tion fol­low­ing a ma­jor heart at­tack.

A TALE OF TWO BUSI­NESS MEN

Let me tell you a story.

I was 24 years old and work­ing in the car­dio-tho­racic ward at Auck­land’s Green­lane Hos­pi­tal. I worked in the high de­pen­dency unit (HDU) – the step-down unit af­ter pa­tients are trans­ferred from the in­ten­sive care unit (ICU). There were two pa­tients in their early 40s; both had a triple by-pass op­er­a­tion. They were con­scious, breath­ing and newly trans­ferred to the unit. They seemed to be type ‘A’ per­son­al­i­ties and were do­ing well.

Dur­ing my shift we started chat­ting and I learnt about their lives and what had hap­pened.

What re­ally struck me was how each pa­tient was han­dling their ‘sec­ond chance’ at life (it’s very likely they would have died if they didn’t have the surgery).

One gen­tle­man was CEO of a large cor­po­rate. He re­alised he’d been given a sec­ond chance and said, “I’m not go­ing to blow it”.

He said some­thing along the lines of, “It re­ally makes you sit up and re­think what’s most im­por­tant to you.” He de­cided that he was go­ing to re­tire, and move to the Coro­man­del to set up a mar­ket gar­den.

How­ever, the other man, the man­ag­ing direc­tor of a large com­pany, made a call on his mo­bile and half an hour later his PA ar­rived with his lap­top and a brief­case of work to do.

To this day I won­der if he is still with us. I hope so, be­cause he re­ally was given a sec­ond chance in life.

But it’s what we do with that sec­ond chance that maps out our fu­ture.

Two men, same sit­u­a­tion, two to­tally dif­fer­ent de­ci­sions.

MORE STRESS

What I’m see­ing now in SMBs is a lot of men and women who, on the sur­face, ap­pear to have ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol. How­ever, af­ter sev­eral meet­ings they start telling me about their de­pres­sion, high blood pres­sure, sleep­less nights, how they feel anx­ious or stressed all the time, and how it’s af­fect­ing things at home. They don’t want to talk to their part­ners be­cause they, in turn, will get stressed (they don’t know I was once a reg­is­tered nurse).

Why this is im­por­tant is be­cause our health af­fects our busi­ness, and our busi­ness af­fects our fam­ily life, and vice versa.

I’m not go­ing to say that you must only work four days a week, or com­pletely change your diet and eat raw or pa­leo food, or do yoga five days a week. But what I will say is: please check in with your­self each week. How are you feel­ing? Slow down and ‘no­tice’ what is hap­pen­ing with your mind­set and how you’re feel­ing phys­i­cally.

Be­cause as busi­ness own­ers we are some of the hard­est work­ing, most com­mit­ted and driven peo­ple around. And while we need the per­se­ver­ance, and an at­ti­tude of never giv­ing up, we also need to have a ‘life’ as well as a busi­ness.

So my last ad­vice is be kind to your­self; take the pres­sure off, and think of all the good things that are hap­pen­ing in your busi­ness.

For­get about those ‘shoulds’ and fo­cus on your ‘wins’ each week. It’s amaz­ing how good that will make you feel in­stead.

While I am all for set­ting goals, KPIs, tar­gets and clear de­fined plans with ac­tion on how to get there, in re­cent years I’m also telling my clients to ‘be kinder to your­self’.”

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