Monday, 20 August 2012

Misplaced stoicism

All the wonderful athletes at the recent Olympics have many qualities that lead to their success, one of which is probably stoicism. But stoicism is not always appropriate.

“I’ve been sick for two weeks. I just can’t seem to get better.” “I’ve had a cold/flu for over a week. I’ve tried everything except staying in bed.” Sound familiar?

The last few months in South Africa we have had a few nasty cold and flu bugs doing the rounds. If you are genuinely sick, stoically going to work every day is, in most cases, stupid. There are very few of us who are absolutely indispensable – despite how we like to see ourselves. If we work for a company and get run over by a bus, the company doesn’t collapse!

When we go to work sick we make other people sick.

When we go to work sick we can’t think clearly or concentrate properly, so we only get half the work done.

When we go to work sick we make mistakes.

A day or so of bed rest (with medicine if needed) allows the body to do what it is designed to do – heal itself. And quicker than it ever can whilst we are up and running around.

Even an ill performer in a world where the maxim is “the show must go on”, can rest most of the day and then go to the theatre at night. And those of us who work for ourselves need to do the maths on a couple of half days off versus a few weeks of working at half pace.

So if you have succumbed to one of the nasty bugs please don’t be a martyr. Take a couple of days to stay home and get good bed rest. Then go back to work and give it your all.

Thoughts and pictures have power

A lot has been said and written about the London Olympics so I wasn’t going to say anything but there are just two wonderful stories from medal winners which I want to quickly share with you. They are fabulous examples of how we influence our own lives with our thoughts and drawings or scribbles.
“I want to say that I beat him. I want to go out there and beat the best. To be the best means racing the greatest that’s ever been.” said Chad le Clos prior to the Olympics. (I love his positive language and his focus.) About Phelps he said, "Ever since 2004 when he won six gold medals, he has been an inspiration and role model.” "I have all his major races on my computer, I think I have watched the 100m butterfly Beijing final, when he beat Cavic by 0.01 seconds, a million times. I have it in seven different languages."

Now years ago I was told if you want to be successful pick a person in your field that you admire, and feel what it is like to be them.

Here is what Chad said after he won the gold and beat Phelps, “I felt like him, swimming that last 50 I felt like I was Phelps,” “I always wanted to swim in an Olympic Games and I wanted to be like him.” It seems it worked for him!

And here is a story about the enormous power of putting your dreams and inspirations onto paper:  

Monday, 6 August 2012

Take the pressure off yourself

“You don’t look yourself,” was the greeting from a friend on meeting me for our final committee meeting of the year. “I am tired,” I replied. “The last couple of weeks I have just been chasing my tail and barely meeting deadlines.” As I said it, it struck me that this was most unusual for me. What had gone wrong?

Into my head came a picture of Stephen Covey’s four quadrants.

Ideally we should spend most of our time doing activities that fall into Quadrant 2 – important but not yet urgent.
I had instead slipped into being in Quadrant 1 – important and urgent.
I haven’t done that for many years. I make a point of planning and prioritising, of saying No when necessary and of remaining in the moment rather than worrying about what may be coming. However somehow that went pear shaped at the beginning of December. By the time I realised what I had done I was feeling drained and dissatisfied.
I am now back in Quadrant 2 and feeling so much better.

If two weeks of that made me so tired, what do months and months of it do to us? And what’s more it is an unproductive space, so all that stress and strain is achieving even less.

Perhaps this is a good time for each of us to evaluate where we are working from and if that isn’t a productive, enjoyable space to make a plan to change it now?

(Originally written in December 2011)