The Common Theme That’s Far Too Common
I noticed a theme in three recent conversations.
Convo 1 was with a client who shared she feels like she’ll never “catch up”. She works 60 – 70 hours each week, and in her long workdays, she rarely gets up from her desk to take a break of any kind. She doesn’t see how she even could take a break given her responsibilities to answer client inquires quickly via phone and email.
Convo 2 was with a sales leader who was recently promoted and is taking on his company’s UK region. As he does the work to hire three team members in the UK, he’s dreading the impact the eight-hour time difference between them will have on his ability to lead the team effectively.
Convo 3 was with a Director of Business Development who told me she typically has more meetings on her calendar in the course of a day than she has time to attend. She rushes from one to the next (even when that rushing involves exiting one Zoom room to enter another) and doesn’t feel she’s adding great value to any of them.
That theme I mentioned above? All three of these professionals are working—and living—in survival mode.
They do ‘all the things’ every day; they’re not happy about it; and they tell themselves it is what it is.
When the Choice is ‘Doing’ Over ‘Being’
In the article “The Downside of Hustle Culture”, April Wilson, MD, chair of the preventative medicine department at Loma Linda University of Health in California says, “Hustle culture is about being a human doing rather than a human being.”
And so it is with survival mode. You do, do, do in an attempt to get ‘it’ all done. Getting there—to that place of being in control of your schedule and accomplishments—doesn’t happen, though. So you keep running in the race that never ends.
The reality is, survival mode isn’t a sustainable strategy. It eats away at your health—both physically and mentally—and makes it nearly impossible to learn, grow, and develop into the leader and professional you want to be.
Looking Through a New Lens
I believe one of the most valuable ways I support my clients is by helping them step back to observe what’s really happening. Survival mode masterfully clouds your vision so you can’t see possible solutions to end the never-ending sprint on the hamster wheel.
As a leadership coach, I wipe away the cloudiness and help my clients see through a new, clear lens to allow for better results. Results like regular breaks multiple times per day. Space in your schedule to breathe, think, and visualize the future. Confidence to decline some meeting invitations along with a request to get a concise update on what was decided. Creativity to solve challenges that seem insurmountable– like an eight-hour time difference between you and direct reports.
There’s always—always–a solution to the situation you’re currently experiencing and not enjoying. And the best part is, when you decide you’re ready to implement a solution, it doesn’t take long for you to realize life—and work—are much better on the other side.