Tag Archives: Barriers

5 Steps to a Complete Emotional Breakdown by Wednesday

We’ve all got a little stress in our lives—and research actually shows that to be a good thing. But I’ve learned over the years that stressors at work or home can quickly go from productive to paralyzing. Here, I’ve gathered a few tried and true practices that could trigger a total breakdown in a zen master.

  1. Sleep Less– If you want to be more stressed, this is the easiest way to get there. Sleep deprivation causes the brain to raise the stress hormone even if there is not another stressor present. And, since sleep is the time that the brain uses to store and discard the day’s memories, you’ll be scattered and forgetful after burning the candle at both ends.
  2. Get an Extra Shot of Espresso– If you’re feeling a little sluggish after Step 1 (and believe me, you will), it’s ideal to try to jump start your brain with a boost of caffeine from another cup of coffee, Diet Coke, Red Bull, or one of those energy drinks with names that sound like heavy-metal rock bands. For more stress, this is perfect. Caffeine releases adrenaline, so your body will react to any stressor with a more dramatic response than you may anticipate.
  3. Be Available 24/7– It can be difficult to keep the anxiety going after 5 or on the weekends, so make sure to constantly be checking email, texts and phone messages for a new “hit” of stressors during the time others might use to unplug and recover. You may want to sleep with your Blackberry turned on right next to your bed, so even in the middle of the night you are ready for a new stressor to interrupt any chance of decent rest and get your exhausted and over-caffeinated brain churning.
  4. Ask “What If?”- These two little words are almost guaranteed to reignite any stressor—old or new—in the brain. By focusing on all the possible problems in the future and old problems and concerns from the past you effectively prevent your mind from working on solutions and taking action in the present. With any kind of decision-making this will amp up your stress level in mere minutes.
  5. Become a Lone Ranger– Realizing that others care about you and are willing to help you achieve your goals will strengthen your relationships and personal confidence—significantly lowering your stress. If you’re sharing your stressors with someone who can supply you with a new perspective, support, and encouragement, you may actually avoid a breakdown altogether. Instead, it’s best to keep your anxiety to yourself and try to tackle all of your problems without any outside help.

I don’t know about you, but my pulse is already feeling a little faster after reading through that list. And guess what? This is only part one! Stay tuned for How to Think Your Way into an Emotional Breakdown.

Do You Like What You Do?

Such a simple question, but the ramifications of your answer have a lot to do with your enjoyment of life. Whether you are the CEO of a company or the CEO of a home, you spend most of your time “doing” it. So, do you enjoy it?

Well according to the Gallup organization only 20% of people can answer that simple question with a resounding “Yes!”

Here is what is so interesting…built into the DNA of each and every one of us is the need to do something—and in a perfect world, to enjoy doing it. It is great to have something to look forward to every day. Not only that, but what we do often contributes directly to our identity.

When people are first getting to know each other, what is one of the first questions asked: “So, what do you do?” If your answer to that question is something you find fulfilling and meaningful, you feel so much better about yourself than if your answer leaves you flat and uninspired.

Believe it or not, enjoying what you do has a major impact on many of the other areas of your life: relationships, physical health, and financial security for example.

Think about it this way, if you have wonderful relationships, stable financial security, and good physical health—but you don’t like what you do every day…chances are pretty good that much of your social time is spent complaining about your lousy job (not very fun as it pulls everyone else around you down).  You also spend a great deal of your time away from work worrying about having to go back to it (which ruins your time away from it). And all that worry, dread, and anxiety about work can have a negative impact on your health.

Many have fallen into the trap that work is just a necessary evil and it is certainly not something to be enjoyed. But that’s not true. One of the essentials to having fun at work and enjoying what you do is getting the opportunity to use your strengths every day.  According to the Gallup organization people who have the opportunity to use their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

What do you enjoy about your job? What are you good at? Figure out how to do more of it. Get creative. Swap tasks with some of your colleagues. Talk to your boss about it. Enjoying what you do is a “win” for everyone.

Barriers Can Make You Better

I am writing these words on March 27th. For basketball fans across the country and around the world, March Madness is in full bloom. And with the field shrinking down to Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, this year’s tournament has been filled with surprises.

As it happens every year, there have been a number of great games go down to final shots. There have also been plenty of great story lines filled with upsets, bracket busters, and Cinderellas. On one end of the spectrum there has been lots of second-guessing, hand-wringing, and head-hanging. On the other end standing ovations, celebrations, and jubilation.

As each college basketball season comes to a close I am always reminded of the amazing feat accomplished by the UCLA Bruins during their unprecedented 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in 12 seasons from 1963 to 1975.

During that amazing run, UCLA had a number of truly great players but, arguably, the greatest was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). His athleticism and ability to dunk the basketball made him stand out like a man among boys on the court.

But between his sophomore and junior years at UCLA, the NCAA Rules Committee made a rule change that outlawed the dunk shot. It was widely believed that the committee had instituted this change with the single goal of lessening Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance during games.

At first, Kareem was devastated. He perceived this as a huge barrier to his success. A giant obstacle thrown in his path. But his coach challenged his perspective and told him to look at this barrier as a way to raise his game to a higher level. As he later wrote in his autobiography, Kareem:

“At the time, Coach Wooden told me it would only make me a better player, helping me develop a softer touch around the basket. This I could use to good advantage in the pros, where I could also, once again, use the dunk shot. He was right. It didn’t hurt me. I worked twice as hard at banking my shots off the glass, on turn-around jump shots, and on my hook. [This barrier] made me a better all-around player.”

Just as the “no dunk rule” barrier caused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to develop more of his potential by forcing him to focus on other skills and abilities so too can barriers have the same impact on our lives.

Whether the barrier you face is new technology, a new competitor, a challenging student or an economic downturn, remember barriers can truly help us to become even better than we were before.

Remember the Titans

My bride loves to go to the movies.
I don’t.

I would rather sit in my own chair, eat my own popcorn, drink my own Coke, and the whole evening costs $3.00. But not Tina. When I tell her I am going to take her to the movies at “the big movie theater”, she pants like a lizard on a hot rock.

One of her favorite movies of all time is “Remember the Titans”. Ok, I admit it, I love it too. It is the story of a football team (and really an entire community) that comes face to face with racial reconciliation when a “white high school” and a “black high school” are merged into one school.

Two of the leading characters in the movie are two of the star football players on the team: one white athlete (who is the captain of the team) and one black athlete (who is a total football beast).

As the football team prepares for their season during a weeklong, off-site training camp, the racial tension among the players is very intense. At the height of the unrest, the two stars are about to tear each other apart and, the white player is yelling at the black player about his bad attitude. The black player shouts back, “Attitude reflects leadership, CAPTAIN!

It was a great moment in the movie and everyone in the audience was able to see how a leader can dramatically impact the whole atmosphere of a team (positively or negatively) by the attitude they bring to the table. Now, I define a leader as “anyone who has influence”…that’s you!

What attitude are you bringing…
…to your office?
…to your team?
…to your church?
…to your home?

Here is the great news…you are in total control of your attitude! Regardless of what is happening all around you – you still have total control over your attitude. Choose carefully. It makes a big difference.

Conquering the Obstacles

Like so many other fathers on this little spinning ball in space, I suffer from a syndrome that has plagued man for centuries…my daughter has me wrapped around her little finger. When I look at her I see perfection – pure, unblemished perfection. Now, as her father, I realize that I am probably the only one who can see her through such unbiased and objective eyes so if others fail to see it, I can simply write them off as ignorant buffoons.

And, as my daughter’s 10th birthday approached, she inevitably desired that one gift that made all other gifts pale by comparison…a horse. Well, as you would guess, while I love her more than life itself, I do not have that tree (I have tried to plant it many times but it just won’t grow money). And, as you would also guess, she looked up at me with those sad, big blue eyes and, by golly, Daddy bought her a horse.

Her name was Yoo Hoo (the horse not my daughter) and it was love at first sight. Lindsey wanted to be a show jumper (this is where she competes in a huge arena filled with people and jumps over large walls, fences, and other obstructions that frightened her father to no end).

We got Lindsey an amazing trainer to help her learn how to compete in this sport (honestly, all I knew about horses was which end the food went in and which end it came out and to stay away from both ends). I was more than a little worried when “my baby” climbed up upon this 700 lb “wild beast”.

They trained for months with Lindsey progressing rapidly in her learning. She was a natural. Then one day her trainer, Jason, proclaimed her ready to compete and signed her up for a huge show. We had one week to get ready. Jason informed us that the week before a show was critical and that he wanted to work with Lindsey every afternoon with her completely dressed in her “competition outfit”.

We arrived for the first pre-competition practice and Yoo Hoo was nowhere to be seen. Jason said Yoo Hoo was ready but Lindsey was not. He proceeded to sit her on top of the fence that surrounded the riding area at the stable and they rode the course over and over in Lindsey’s mind. Jason taught her that she had to “see” herself succeeding, that she had to visualize herself flawlessly running the course: elbows in, thumbs up, heels down, change leads, lean into the jump. Time and time again they ran the course in Lindsey’s head.

The following Saturday I watched my girl win her first blue ribbon and learn a lifelong lesson on the importance and the power of vision. Rather than focus on the obstacles in the course she focused on getting over them. A good lesson for all of us as we face the obstacles in our course of life.