It was my first end of quarter in a new leadership position, I was stressed beyond belief because we had started the first month far under plan and were trying to climb ourselves out.
Yes, it would eventually correct itself but not in 90 days. Our sales cycles were six to eighteen months.
I’d also taken over a team that I used to be on. And for anyone who has done this, you know how extremely difficult it is to go from player to coach – peer to leader. I went from being on a team and supported, to a place that felt more like isolation then respect.
I knew I need to stay calm, keep my values intact as I managed up to my management and down to my team.
An employee had come to me a month earlier and asked if he could take the last two weeks off to support his wife who was running for office. This was an employee I was having a very hard time connecting with, potentially because I had run against him for the role and despite the fact he had a lot more proven experience than me, he didn’t get it.
Not only did I feel like this was the right thing to do, I was hoping this act would help us build trust or repair the relationship.
Unfortunately, this employee had not come through on the commitments he had promised and I was left on the last day explaining to my boss why the business was not going to come in as expected. My boss, was just as loveable and charismatic as he was in-your-face angry. Obviously, he was stressed from all my peers and I calling to say the same thing.
He said this is “b$%@” and he’d take care of it as he slammed down the phone.
My body tensed up.
I was about to jump on this Friday Morning video call with my boss’s boss where I would have to lower my commit.
I felt adrenaline coursing through my body as I prepared to say, “I couldn’t deliver on what I said I would...”
The challenge was to make it sound like it was coming from an adult instead of a child sheepishly admitting they did something wrong. These calls were meant to be intimidating and stressful as they would randomly pick deals and ask obscure questions to see if you really knew your business. They used fear as a teacher. And hopefully the sting of that bite, as you were embarrassed and ashamed in front of your peers, would remind you not to do it again.
Because you didn’t want to be embarrassed, you would hedge your bets you had some wiggle room in case deals slipped. And so, at the end of the day, no one really knew where their business was and it was the lucky ones that week who looked like heroes and the unlucky ones who looked worthless.
Just as I dialed into the video bridge and could see all my peers in little boxes around the screen, I felt my phone vibrate several times. After the third time, I looked down, instantly wishing this had been the one day I’d left my phone in my purse… like I used to.
It was a text from my campaigning employee who’d left the mess for me to clean up.
Turns out my boss had cursed him out over the speaker phone… while he was driving around with a church van full of campaign supporters.
He was beyond embarrassed.
And stressed out.
As I was about to lower my commit, an email notification popped up.
… Ugh, those notifications, but I couldn’t resist and clicked on the email.
It was from my employee, he’d sent an email to the head of our company’s HR, copying my entire chain of command accusing me and my boss of harassment.
This was a serious allegation made to some very important people.
I immediately jumped to worst case conclusions.
I don’t remember too much from that call but I know it didn’t go well because I wasn’t in the right mindset to handle the situation.
Over the course of the next few months, I found myself slipping into old habits of constantly checking my phone. Working all weekends. Clicking on every new email notification. Freaking out on the subway when I didn’t get cell service.
It had been fire drill after fire drill and I didn't have the ability to manage the stress anymore. I was bordering on burnout.
I’m sure I didn’t come across as my best self during this time… first off, I actually didn't enjoy the tasks required to do my job and the environment was too stressful for anyone to perform well. I was grinding it out.
But I stuck with it because I felt stuck in it.
Where would I go? What would I do next? How could I change this situation?
Then I remembered I had the tools to help me focus and manage the stress. I started to implement them with my team and put them through a mindfulness program. My performance and my team's dramatically increased from 67% to 94%.
(Our Productivity Course, Resilience Course and 20 Hour- Work Week program were developed from science and my own experiences to get present and productive.)
How are some ways you can increase your productivity and resilience?
Use our Daily Delta method to focus on high impact activities
Use Performance Breaks to help reduce stress and increase emotional regulation
Check to make sure you are using authentic grit (not stupid grit) for energy management
When I did leave my job within a year I created a 6 figure business that is fulfilling, joyful and natural (while also only working 6 months a year).
There will always be ‘something’ on the outside that creates stress, presents a challenge, is an obstacle. The trick is to learn how to handle it on the inside.