As we start 2020 spare a thought for those business owners that will have dreaded the New Year.  They possibly could not relax over Christmas because of the fear and anxiety of what they imagine January would have in store – constant pressure, problems, threats from all sides and feeling completely overwhelmed.  They dread the phone ringing or checking their emails, they can’t sleep, can’t stop worrying and can’t stop working!

You may imagine that this only applies to those businesses that are struggling to pay the bills. However, years of experience tells me that this applies equally to those running profitable and even highly successful businesses.  Business owners worry equally about maintaining that success!

It’s all too much!

Yes, it can feel like that!  However, if we are not at our best, exhausted, burnt out and overwhelmed, it is easy for our minds to catastrophise and look negatively at absolutely everything.  Confirmation bias finds whatever evidence it needs to support the mind’s perception that everything is doom and gloom, that it is hopeless and everyone is out to harm us/our business in one way or another.

When everything that is happening is seen as a threat, it is understandable that there is a fear of change and of taking risks which paradoxically sows the seeds of the loss of the very ingredients that are needed to overcome the inevitable challenges we face:  determination, enthusiasm, clear thinking, highly effective communication, innovation and creative problem-solving.  At worst, the situation simply becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – stagnation, loss of morale, under-performance and a failure to respond effectively to the demands of customers.

Business Coaching for those suffering burnout

What are the warning signs that things are getting out of hand?

Very often it is other people that notice that we are struggling and something isn’t right before we do.  They notice unexpected changes in our behaviour and attitude that is worrying. We can’t see the suffering ourselves as it just becomes “normal. We are scared to admit that we are struggling or we feel compelled to carry on regardless to try and protect others.  For example:

  • Never stopping working or talking about work (constantly checking work emails, working late and at weekends).
  • Struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep. Laying awake ruminating and catastrophising.
  • Feeling depressed and miserable most of the time.
  • Feeling stressed and anxious. Perhaps even having anxiety attacks which are a truly horrible experience.
  • Not returning phone calls or responding to emails (burying one’s head).
  • A tendency to avoid conversations with others (locking one’s self away) and even in social settings.
  • Taking either no time off or too much time away from work.
  • Increased tendency to be angry, intolerant and impatient.
  • Making rushed decisions and quick fixes that have not been adequately thought through
  • Obviously, in severe cases, there may have already been trips to the doctors, medication and counselling.

If you are being honest, can you see some of these behaviours in yourself or someone you work closely with?

Don’t get me wrong, many of the above behaviours and issues are not always bad.  Sometimes, we have busy and difficult periods or periods when we feel a bit under par.  What I am talking about is a situation where the above becomes the norm rather than a short period of digging deep!

What happens if I fail to respond to these warning signs?

Clearly, if we are in a very poor state of mind, exhausted and overwhelmed this will inevitably impact the quality of our decisions and importantly the relationships with others both inside and outside the business. There is a tendency to side-step important decisions, risk of poor quality decisions and a lack of effective communication with those that are needed to achieve and maintain high-performance and success. At the end of the day, if we are no use to ourselves then we cannot hope to be of use to others.

Our health continues to suffer (e.g. headaches, unhealthy weight loss or gain, stomach ulcers, insomnia etc) and we also face the risk of self-medicating on, and addiction to, very unhealthy pursuits (e.g. alcohol, drugs, gambling) in the mistaken belief that they will make things better. Perhaps to stop the constant flow of negative thoughts.

Ultimately, at its worst, this road leads to burnout, an inability to function and sadly to feeling that life may no longer be worth living. It is very hard to see any glimmer of light when you hit rock bottom.

I think I may need help as I want to avoid going down that path

The important thing to realise is that no matter how difficult, challenging or hopeless you think the situation is, there is always a solution. There is always a way of overcoming misery and suffering. I know that this can often be hard to imagine but it is true.

So, really the starting point has to be recognising that something needs to change and then that the situation is never hopeless.  Also, trusting me when I say that just because we think something doesn’t make it true! If we are wearing the lens of negativity then everything looks grim even when it isn’t.  Our thoughts are not always reality even though they may feel compelling and create powerful emotions.

Obviously seeking help from others is a vital first step – trusted colleagues, family, friends, advisors doctors and counsellors are all invaluable. Although it is tempting to keep this “all under wraps” and to focus exclusively on the needs of others first (“I don’t want to worry them”) it is extremely hard to make the required changes without the help and support from others.  “It’s good to talk” is a truism!

Don’t get me wrong, reaching out to others for help is not always easy.  Also, confronting our fears and acknowledging that we are not invincible is also a painful experience too.  What makes this even harder is the fact that you are feeling negative and anxious.  The very things that block our ability to engage well with others. However, until we reach the decision ourselves that something has to change, then we will simply find excuses to ignore any advice we are given – “how can they possibly know what is best”, “if I can just get through the next month things will ease up”, “I’ll stop drinking so much booze when this or that happens”.

So can Lunesdale Business Training help?

Yes indeed! We have years and years of experience supporting business owners through turbulent times and guiding them down the path to future success (however that is measured). Expert, caring and trustworthy.

We offer a range of support services for those struggling to lead and manage their businesses.  In particular, services that focus on wellbeing, strengthening personal resilience, identifying the  underlying causes of the challenges faced and helping to develop and evaluate appropriate solutions:

  • A free initial chat to discuss key issues and to highlight what solutions or help is available to overcome challenges and exploit opportunities.
  • One-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions – giving those that are struggling the opportunity to discuss their issues in a safe, confidential, supportive and non-judgemental environment
  • Group coaching and mentoring sessions where we bring people together from different businesses and industries so that they can share their experiences and work together to develop the skills they need to overcome the bumps in the road. Building self-confidence and new skills through creative and collaborative working.
  • Leadership & Management Training that promotes the wellbeing of self and others as a means to achieve long term sustainable success.

Watch this space!

Yes indeed, watch this space. I will shortly issue a follow-up article that looks in more detail at the practical things that can business leaders can do to rebuild their personal resilience and self-confidence and find their mojo again!

Also, over the next few weeks, we plan to offer some heavily subsidised coaching and mentoring sessions for local business owners, directors and struggling managers that are facing some or all of the pressures and challenges I have highlighted above. Providing much-needed help, support and guidance.

If you would like to find out more about the topics I have highlighted above, subsidised coaching and mentoring or our coaching and training services more broadly, please contact me in complete confidence on 07961674535 or by email to [email protected].