This article is about dealing specifically with entrepreneurial and executive stress and anxiety because that's what took me down three times. Now, I'm better with the lessons I learned.
My mission is to help other businesses, executives, and next-generation leaders to live and work fearlessly by sharing the tools I used to bounce back from deep, dark depths, and live the life of my dreams.
None of us need to be a war-torn hero to suffer from chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and the myriad costs when our minds and bodies fail us. Millions of us from all walks of life battle stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction daily.
No family is immune to the pressures we face and self-impose, not even the families who thought they could sleep well at night, living behind a locked gate with security guards cruising the community.
I believe it's time for more men, especially, to be open, transparent, and vulnerable about our battles with the mental and physical demons that plague millions of us. Everything I share is for the benefit of leaders who lead families, businesses, communities, churches, towns, cities, counties, states, and even federal government.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are all in this together if we agree to understand the Latin words that bond us, E Pluribus Unum."- I'm a writer. This is my line.
I've been to the deepest depths of the darkest places on earth, with the one exception of being in a real war. The battles and wars I waged were all in my head, then in my body, even attacking my spirit, but never conquered my soul. Thank goodness for the grace and ability to bounce back.
Stress At Work Is Crushing Us
Did you know that our current mental health crisis in America is costing us $300 billion a year in medical bills and lost productivity? The American Institute of Stress reveals 42 shocking facts about stress at work in this article.
Here's the "Editor's Choice" from the same article.
- 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.
- US businesses lose up to $300 billion yearly as a result of workplace stress.
- Stress causes around one million workers to miss work every day.
- Only 43% of US employees think their employers care about their work-life balance.
- Depression leads to $51 billion in costs due to absenteeism and $26 billion in treatment costs.
- Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly.
It's time more leaders take a stand together. The stand begins by creating awareness and having open, healthy conversations and dialogue about solutions that work when you work them.
Wars In My Head
The chronic stress of being a small business owner and "legend in his own mind" almost took me out of the game three times. There's no need to belabor the details of my train wrecks. Each melt-down happened while leading my family, a team, or a business I own. I let stress go untreated. That became costly.
Every setback brought me to new levels of success. Here's a quick summary of what happened when I was consciously and unconsciously allowing stress and anxiety to crush me from the inside out.
- My first meltdown was in my late 20's. I had children when I was a child. My wife raised three boys for the first 25 or more years. I was attending a company-sponsored holiday party in 1990. That was my last "real job." Since then, I've been in business for myself.
- The second time I ignored repeated stress and anxiety hit me harder than the first. Shortly after selling my financial planning business to a major Wall Street firm in 2000, I lost my investments, my book of business, my confidence, the ability to walk without a walker, and my faith. The second round was worse.
- The third time was no charm. My father, a hero to me, died at the peak of my success with my second business, a digital marketing consulting firm. I sold it a couple of years ago because I wanted to simplify my life.
Now, I have a simple business and a much simpler life. I feel blessed.
Making Stress Your Friend
The fastest way to make stress your friend is to learn from the lessons and habits of others while doing your best to build a rich life you love.
You can't learn to start a business, lead a family or a business, or deal with ongoing stress and life management in a seminar. You have to live life to learn it best. That's why most of us agree the school of hard knocks is the best way to get smart.
Here are a few of the biggest ways I learned to make stress my friend, and you can too.
- Follow the example of champion athletes, entertainers, performers, community leaders, humanitarians, and soccer dads from all over who got the help we needed. We train to break down muscles and bodies, then we recover, eat well, hydrate, and sleep well. We embrace healthy habits while using stress to make us stronger and better.
- Let go of control. Let go of stress. That's one of the fastest, but not easy, ways to reduce stress. When I learned to let go of control, deal with my irrational fear, and get out of my self-loathing, hyper-critical, can't-do-be-get-have-win enough attitude, my life changed for the better.
- Be grateful for everything. Practice gratitude along with the other virtues. If you want to be happy, listen to Aristotle. He taught us the purpose of living a virtuous life is to be happy. That's why I was never happy living a less than virtuous life.
- Be more aware of how you show up before you show up. My father taught me to be "the Observer" of myself. To stop when I get angry or impatient, and to "rise above" my current view. One object observing another changes the state of the object. Imagine that. Awareness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and being kinder, a more civil human being, is the way to live the Golden Rule.
- Embrace a virtuous life. Here's a quick summary. You can learn more here.
Start being more aware. Read, learn, and listen to your inner teacher. Here's another article I wrote about healthy executive stress management habits and bouncing back from whatever the business of life delivers.
Aristotle's Virtue Ethics
Aristotle believed happiness is the goal or purpose for humans. To be happy, he offered his 12 virtues. I've added my spin to each virtue because I'm a writer. Duh. Anyway, you'll notice similarities if you read the Biblical virtues, which are always in contrast to the Seven Deadly Sins.
- Courage. Be brave.
- Temperance. Be moderate.
- Liberality. Be frugal.
- Magnificence. Be charismatic.
- Magnanimity. Be generous.
- Ambition. Be a producer.
- Patience. Be calm, no anger.
- Friendliness. Be empathetic and giving.
- Truthfulness. Be honest, but not hurting.
- Wit. Laugh, learn, live, choose joy.
- Modesty. Be checking your ego at the door.
- Justice. Live lawfully or pay the price.
Living virtuously is simple, but we struggle.
Being Part of the Solution
I get to be part of the solution because of the choices I've made since losing alcohol and lots of other bad habits more than a decade ago. I replaced bad habits with healthy habits, and this made all the difference. No television, toxic news, or commercial radio. Leading a simpler life for me is better.
The stress management and behavioral science tools I've discovered can be helpful for anyone ready to learn the art of peak leadership performance. (By the way, everyone is a leader in my book. If you can't or won't lead your life with passion and purpose, who will?)
The "Inner Game" of peak leadership performance and the system I teach, Clarity, is all about being able to dig deep and work through anything the business of life throws our way. I mean A-N-Y-T--H-I-N-G because I've been to hell on earth and back more than once. That's what qualifies me to lead others back from the dark, forward, and beyond.
The Power of Radical Clarity
Trudging through some dark valleys is where I found new, "radical clarity" as I call it. Clarity from the darker times of my life is everything to me and my family. Clarity Strategic Advisors, LLC, is the name of my company now. My small team of coaches, trainers, writers, teachers, and business advisors help you discover the "Inner Game" of peak leadership performance.
Life humbled me. My mistakes were the best teachers, but not always easy. Now, I get to share my strategy, process, and toolkit for helping others become fearless and peaceful stress warriors.
Join Me, Please
Will you please join me by inviting me to meet business and community leaders who could benefit from my experiences, and the coaching programs and workshop series I created to bring my stress awareness training to thousands of more leaders?
If you're ready, willing, and able to join my small brigade of purpose-powered, peaceful stress warriors, connect with me for a conversation by clicking here.
I always appreciate your constructive comments, questions, and suggestions here on the blog more than the spam comments I get from far away, strange places.
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