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a blog by Chris Barrow

Being the Boss is more stressful than ever. A guest post by Mark Topley

If the past two years have given us anything - it's been a boatload of pressure.

If we’re not careful, that pressure can cause stress. And stress that goes unprocessed or unrelieved can cause lasting damage - physically, mentally and emotionally.

From a quick survey of mine and my friends’ clients, a growing number of Principals and Managers are showing the signs of a gradual build up of negative stress. Many of them crossed the threshold from ‘tired’ to ‘depleted’ some time ago.

Tired or Depleted?

Craig Groeschel nailed it recently when he highlighted the difference.

Tiredness is recoverable with sleep and rest.

Depletion requires replenishment over time.

Of course you'll need rest and sleep as well, but depletion (when you wake up tired, lose enthusiasm for life etc) is a sign that you've neglected your emotional and mental well-being for too long. In short, you're not having enough what I call ‘Guilt Free Fun’.

Even if you're in good physical shape, you can still be depleted.

What you can do

I’ve been in your shoes. My depletion point was over 5 years ago now. I let it go too far before I did something about it. It was only my body and brain calling time that forced me to do something about it.

I’ve learned a few things in the past 5 years. If you’re feeling depleted right now:

● Get help - whether it's professional or talking to a friend that 'gets it', I have found huge relief in talking about how I feel when I'm stressed. There are some great online therapy tools as well.

● Rest - it sounds obvious, but rest is the prerequisite. It's the foundation for replenishment and you simply have to rest properly. This will be harder if you've been turning to caffeine, alcohol or comfort food to keep going, so cut down where you can. Early bedtimes or a day off - they all help.

● Control the controllables - if you watch any high performer, they'll all have rituals to give themselves the feeling of control. In reality we have to accept that we control (at best) 20% of our lives. But there's great value in maximising that 20%. Morning routines, break times, getting positive input and even picking and planning ahead what you'll eat for lunch this week will help you gain an inner sense of control.

● Find what makes you happy - I have found this to be the most important factor in replenishing. Fun, play, or activity for its own sake has tremendous benefits. You have to find things that you enjoy and then make sure you do them. A client recently told me that he had problems switching off from the business in the evenings. But he had no hobbies, no fun activities to occupy the mental and emotional space. If you allow work to expand unconstrained into your non-work time, it will happily fill it, and build on your stress levels.

● Set boundaries - there's a myriad of things that hamper our ability to switch off and replenish. TV, technology, synchronous communication from work (like WhatsApp etc) can all trample on our free time and stop us from switching off and winding down. My rules are simple - no checking emails on my phone, no blue screens within an hour of bedtime, and all notifications silenced from 9pm until 7am. My phone 'sleeps' downstairs!

As leaders (and let's face it, as humans!), it's vital that we actively ensure we are managing our stress positively and productively.

If you're feeling stressed and depleted right now, I get it. I have been there to a greater extent than most. But there is a way through it. I hope this post helps you take a first step towards managing your pressures more effectively and put some of the fun back into life.

Something that will help

One of the ways to help alleviate stress is to be part of a supportive community. That’s one of the three pillars that my Great Boss Academy is built on:

● Manageable and consistent development

● Curated and matched content

● A supportive community

I’ve lost count of the number of times our calls have involved someone in a stressful situation. Bringing their challenge to the group and watching the group reassure, advise and encourage is a privilege to witness. The Academy only opens three times a year.

Here's how it works:

✔ We meet online once a month for an hour. Give me that time, plus 25 minutes a week and I promise you will make progress.

✔ It's a continuous development programme to help you become the Great Boss you are trying to be. Steady progress is the key, not unsustainable leaps forward.

✔ The membership fee is for you and 2 team members from your business.

✔ You can focus on the areas you need to develop - with my support - and take practical steps forward every week.

✔ Cut down the time you spend becoming a Great Boss by getting rid of all the research and getting straight to the action steps.

✔ Doors close Sunday 1st May at Midnight

It’s not ‘yet another thing I need to do’, but something which will help you do the things you need to do better.

Hope to see you on the inside.

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