So you’ve skimmed the blogs, articles and e-books, you’ve transformed yourself and you believe. You have your positive head on all the time. You banish negative thoughts and people. You’re tackling life and work with zest & vigour, and of course all done at an incredible no nonsense pace. You are embracing agile and digital so strongly that you may crush the very spirit out of them. And yet you are still thoroughly authentic and humble. You intuitively know that the trick to all this is to nail the modern day holy trinity – 1. keep your body fit, 2. keep your mind engaged and active, and 3. keep your spirit in balance and as pure as the driven snow. Bonus points for you – you’ve nailed it. What can possibly go wrong?
Well much as I hate to rain on your parade, quite a few things actually. Finding your path to executive purity is one thing – keeping on it is a whole different ball game. A few watch outs to be aware of so you can try and avoid the rocks, slings and arrows along the way.
1. Topping the list is wavering belief. A truism in this modern age is that to nail your full potential you really do have to believe in what you are doing. And ultimately this means believing in those around you and most importantly those leading you. Once you get an inkling that their aims have more than a waft of bullshit this can quickly lead to a major compass malfunction, which will fester away in your own mind and quickly impact the way you feel and perform. The problem for me here is that I’ve never been surer that I’m right – and my instincts are almost always good. The environment I’m currently in is poisonous and false, and the top honchos are bordering on charlatans. I am now Uncle Fester.
2. Misguided support networks. One stutter can quickly lead to a stall. And when you start fighting on all fronts you know you really are in trouble. The advice of colleagues, friends and loved ones is always well intentioned. And you are most open to this advice when the waters are not smooth. The problem is what if the support doesn’t align with your thoughts. Are you wrong all of a sudden? If you’re the type that listens then you’re more likely to be open to at least the possibility of being wrong. This in itself shouldn’t be a problem, but all of a sudden it can escalate. Less focus at work, wrong decisions socially or at home – these will all lead to more advice and if you’re not careful you will be launched into a spiral of doubt, inconsistency and nerves that will degrade your confidence before you can say boomshakalaka.
3. Incapacitation. Getting knocked off your regular health and fitness regime is a almighty pain in the arse. These things aren’t easy to get into in the first place and when you do get into a rhythm it takes a lot of effort but gives out clear rewards. Without the effort you just get guilt. And guilt is bad. It’s yet another vicious cycle that takes you down. And given that the most likely reason for being down is illness or injury, which prevented you from accomplishing what you wanted to in the first place, this seems especially unfair. Which makes it worse again.
4. Missing all your self imposed targets and milestones. All self improvement includes some task based rigour – better known as lists. But what happens in your mind when you manage to miss every single point on your list? Failure? You’d better believe it.
5. Resilience taking a wander. If belief is at the top of the list then it’s only right and proper that resilience is the alternate bookend. Everything can be overcome if you perfect your resilience. Just work on being more resilient. How hard can it be? Well, sadly the conclusion I’ve come to is that if you are the type of Exec that actually gives a damn, listens, and does things for the right reasons – then it’s damn hard. It comes much easier to those cloth eared ego maniacs who pervade the executive corridors and boardrooms at most corporates, but as we know only too well ignorance and arrogance are not worth the trade off for resilience. We need to find a pathway to that all on our own.
I realise that right now this is just a list of big stuff that has the ability to knock you off your perch. And believe me if you start picking up multiples of the above then the likelihood of hitting the floor increases exponentially. I currently seem to have maxed out with all five.
You will also notice that there are no answers as in how to avoid these yet – hopefully by next month I will have figured it out. Currently it’s like having a door opened to a bright and wondrous new universe and then in one instant, slammed in my face, ripped off its hinges and splattered over my head.
It’s also even impacted my drive to write. Only one update this month (in fact due to export issues I’ve even missed this) which means that just 6 months in I’m at real risk of falling foul of the stereotype average blog life cycle. Need to step up my game and find some inspiration. All tips gratefully received.