It is so hard for business owners and leaders to switch off in today’s modern world. Technology and customer impatience is constantly vying for our attention at all hours of the day. Yes, we know customers are our turnover king, but there needs to be a cut-off point to our working day to avoid the dreaded burnout. Mindset shifts play a big part in our decision making.
I faced the same mindset shift challenges several years ago. I was heading a business that was all supply and demand. We supplied, and the customers demanded our immediate attention and service. It was a waste recycling business with many moving parts, at times many broken-down ones too. Because of this, we were playing catch up which caused daily problems and disruption to everyday pressures.
As leaders, our conditioned mindset has always taught us to make hay while the sun shines. Nothing about any detrimental consequences is thought of or mentioned. Leaders consider themselves to be tough cookies and resilient as core values.
Leaders Must Wear Multiple Hats
As a private company, I assumed many roles as one of the prominent leaders. I was heading sales, operations, marketing and financial budgets. In larger companies, there would have been individuals responsible for each role. Not in some private sectors, unfortunately. We needed to be agile, be able to think on our feet in an instant but constantly.
There is only so much of this constant barrage of work responsibility you can take on before it becomes overwhelming as a human being, never mind a leader. The thought of ever being tired gets airbrushed over quickly without consideration for one’s mental wellbeing. Before you know it, a jolt in proceedings comes quicker than expected. I can vouch for that.
My Face Dropped On One Side: What Was Happening?
In my case, that came in some downtime for me, my co-leader colleague and our two boys. We both attended a sporting event on what we termed as a lad’s and dads’ night. I had an excruciating headache come on rapidly. At half time we got some food and drink; as I bit into my hotdog, my son said, dad, your mouth looks very funny. It felt funny, too; as I took a drink, it dribbled down the side of my face, I became anxious and worried instantly.
After the game, I decided to go to the hospital and get checked over. The doctor confirmed I had “Bell’s Palsy.” A term I had not heard of before, as your face drops on one side, it appears as a stroke on your face. It was a wake-up call for me after six years into growing a business. As I asked the doctor what causes this type of condition, his reply startled me. To put it in simple terms, he echoed, “you have hit the wall”. Another term is “Burnout”; if you do not take stock and slow down somewhat, it may lead to other adverse severe things in the future.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
It Was Time To Change My Mindset As A Leader.
I had a significant decision to make; I could not let exponential growth and success come between me and my health. I could not allow this to happen at any price, and nor should you. I needed to apply a mindset shift to lighten my load.
The meaning of “Mindset” from the Definitions from Oxford Languages is “the established set of attitudes held by someone”. My business attitude was you do what you need to do no matter what. It was not the right formula anymore. I needed to apply a more realistic approach that would not cause any more distress on myself than required.
I was in a situation I had never experienced before. At times like this, you need to delve into your innermost feelings, thoughts & even your subconscious spirituality for the answers. Questioning your inner self-belief of still being able to grow and progress forwards is always at the back of your mind. I formed a mindset shift plan, and it was time to put it into action to become a better me and showcase my leadership qualities.
Here Are The Five Mindset Shift Changes I Made.
- I needed to empower more people to take on some responsibility. There was plenty of staff around me; I tested the waters with some and gave them more responsibility. As they took them on successfully, I entrusted them to do the job as they saw fit. I encouraged them to confide in me any problems they were unsure of tackling. Most prominent leaders find this the hardest of all to relinquish.
- I Turned Off or Diverted My Phone at Night. Being a medium-sized private business with 400 employees at various sites across the portfolio. Everyone had my number; as a business operating 24 hours a day, I would get calls at all hours of the night. Switching off or diverting my company phone was the only answer. I could no longer take the weight of the business on my shoulders at all hours of the day and night; it was time to rest my mind.
- I Went To Bed Earlier & Rested More. I decided to adopt good sleeping hours after doing some research. I read that an hour or two of sleep before midnight could be worth double the amount of deep sleep. It also meant I could get the recommended 6-9 hours (I didn’t get prior) of rest needed for optimum benefits whilst helping my circadian rhythm.
- I Made More Time For My Family and Me. There is no use having a wonderful life, house, car or holidays whilst working without giving the essential things like family & me time some consideration. In moments like hitting the wall, more essential priorities need consideration to enjoy life longevity free of burnout.
- I Learned Meditation. I was finding it hard to switch off at night. As a result, I suffered many nights without good sleep. After researching the calming influence meditation can have on your mind and body, I decided it was worth a try. I felt silly at first. Spirituality or spiritual healing was not something I considered before; I only wish I did it sooner. I continue to use meditation today; it has become a valuable part of my personal growth development. It can certainly help yours too.
Let my experience be one you don’t need to face for a wake-up call. Use my mistakes and my mindset shift changes to help make your abundant and pressurized work-life schedule easier as a leader.
One question you should always be prepared to ask yourself. Suppose you were to become seriously ill today. Would your business or work role continue in your absence? If the answer is no, can you allow others to assume more responsibility sooner? If your answer is, yes? Why are you still putting yourself through the strenuous burnout process longer than is needed?