Leadership Perspectives

Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative

October 31, 2014

Everywhere I go, from coaching sessions to professional meetings, in large corporations and small nonprofits, I encounter people suffering from the pace of modern life. Increased illness, lower productivity, damaged relationships, and waning satisfaction are the prices that we pay.

Earlier this month, fellow executive coach and Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program faculty member, Scott Eblin, published a book that proposes another way to be in the middle of an ultra-connected, too much information, and immediate gratification seeking world. It’s called ‘Overworked and Overwhelmed, the Mindfulness Alternative.’  It quickly became Amazon’s #1 Stress Management and #1 Workplace Culture book.  As a Leadership Perspectives guest blogger, Scott is here to tell you about it.

On a summer Sunday night four years ago, I found myself standing in front of a roomful of about 80 corporate managers who probably didn’t want to be there. They had just finished the first week of a high-profile leadership development program in one of the world’s largest companies and week two was scheduled to start at 7:30 am the next morning. They were polite but understandably restless.

I showed the corporate manager the summary results of hundreds of leadership behavior self-assessments. Starting with the highest assessed behaviors, everyone could quickly identify with commitment to behaviors like making timely decisions, being clear about priorities and accepting accountability for results.

Then we took a look at the lowest assessed behaviors like pacing myself, taking regular time to step back and giving others my full presence and attention. There were nods and murmurs of recognition. I summed it up for the group with the headline, “Leaders in your company are so busy doing stuff that they probably don’t see what needs to be done.”

Then the room erupted in vociferous agreement. “Yeah, that’s exactly it!” one person exclaimed. “Yeah,” another agreed, “they expect us to be corporate warriors, answer e-mails at 2:00 in the morning and get by on four hours of sleep a night.” Several people at once said, “We can’t keep this up.”

The conversation I led that evening was the beginning of work and a thought process that led to my new book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. Most of the executives, managers and professionals I work with are trying to work harder every year. The demands of a “do more with less” culture and a 24/7, smart phone enabled operating environment have left too many people teetering on the brink of a caffeine-addicted, sleep-deprived, stressed-out existence. The impact of all of that on short-term productivity and happiness and long-term health and well being is devastating.

The point I’m trying to make in Overworked and Overwhelmed is it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple, relatively easy steps you can take to pull your life from the brink. That’s where the mindfulness alternative comes in. Over the past few years, mindfulness has gotten more and more attention in the mainstream media – it’s even made the cover of Time magazine.

I’m presenting in my book what I’ve learned about how the basics of mindfulness can be used and applied by just about anyone who needs to get out of chronic fight or flight.
Fortunately, there are simple, easy to do routines that we can learn from the practice of mindfulness that can help even the most overworked and overwhelmed people activate their rest and digest response. I summarize a lot of those routines in my book and offer a simple one-page framework called the Life GPS® that helps make it easy to follow through on the routines that help you show up at your best.

It’s never too late to pull yourself back from the brink and reclaim your life. Now is a great time to get started. Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative can help you do that.

 

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