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Cutting Edge Ideas from 2500 Years Ago )
 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 2, #6, November 2004 
in this issue
  • Q4 Mon Amour (Burn, Baby)
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates

  • Greetings!

    This month we discuss how the best way back from the edge may be a simple step in the opposite direction.
    As always, just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Q4 Mon Amour (Burn, Baby)

    Regardless of whether or not your fiscal year actually ends this December 31st, most of you are pushing pretty hard right about now. You're in Disco Inferno mode, filled with adrenaline, strutting your stuff all over the place, jamming hard to the beat before your white suit starts to tarnish, the night is declared officially over, and the best dancers in the house are sent home with the prize.

    Which in itself isn't bad. Working hard can have its rewards. Trouble is, I've seen a lot of genuinely exhausted people out there during the past couple of months. Several of you have written to me. Business is pretty good in many quarters, but some of you are starting to wonder how much longer you can pour it on this hard before you start feeling less like the young Travolta and more like Charlize Theron in full Monster make-up.

    I've written a lot over the past two years about how to manage stress, about how to process the moments of your life in a way that brings joy and good results rather than fatigue and cognitive dissonance. But what do you actually do when cracks begin to appear in the foundation? When no matter how hard you try to renew your energy every day, it becomes harder to just "keep on pushing?"

    The answer, however simplistic it might seem, is obvious: Don't push so hard! Be kind to yourself. Get a life. Enjoy!

    C'mon, you say. That's impossible. Let's face it. There are only a few weeks left to the year with a lot of big holidays looming in there and at the end of that time — we will all be judged. We've got a lot riding on this!

    Trust me, I know. This is my 30th lap around the track. But where is it written that you will actually achieve more by burning yourself out? And what good will getting there be if you find yourself sitting at home staring at the walls with adrenaline overload?

    All of us would love to have a successful finish to this year and not burn out in the process. But where does one begin?

    Begin by being extra good to yourself. Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, in her wise book Start Where You Are, puts it this way:

    "What you do for yourself — any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself — will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you're doing for others, and what you do for others, you are doing for yourself."

    The circle is either virtuous or vicious. Heal yourself and send that out to the world and you will get one kind of result. Harm yourself and — inevitably, at some point — send that out, and you will experience a very different result, one that will be much less appealing both to you and others.

    Here are some other things to keep in mind if you find yourself seriously flagging:

    1. First Come Back To Life. Seek out beauty. Read grand, sweeping novels and listen to sultry music. Take long walks and really notice the architecture in the cities in which you find yourselves. Natural beauty, of course, is even better. Hit the mountains, the coastline and any other beautiful place you can think of. Spend more time gazing at the faces of those you love and less gazing at Bill Gates' operating system.
    2. Pick Your Peers. Pay very close attention to whom you are hanging out with. Try to be among people who are really excited about their lives and the things they're doing. If some of those you are fond of are chronically negative or have a dark view of life, stop seeing them for awhile and stay in touch by e- mail .
    3. Don't Mix Alcohol and Exhaustion. Take all your old Barolos, your micro-brew collection and your Grey Goose and stash them at your sister's place. Don't have a drink for 10 days. That will improve your mental outlook and physical stamina 100 percent. Then begin having a drink or two, a couple of times a week at most. Those of you who have hung out with me know I'm far from abstemious in matters of the cup, but I've found in times of personal stress or sheer fatigue, it's best to consume as little as possible.
    4. Learn How to Slack Off. You may think that those last sixty minutes on e-mail at night will really make a difference in reaching the end zone. Looking back on three decades, I've got to tell you I think they mean almost nothing . In fact, it's more important than ever to power off an hour early and head to the gym. Or out on the town to have some fun. Or home to spend time laughing with loved ones over silly things.

    We're so used to killing ourselves this time of year that we forget that we might actually be killing ourselves. We have an internalized belief that, unless we are "crazed" like everyone else around us at work, we won't hit our goals. And it's not necessarily true. Twenty minutes of meditation in the morning and an hour less of work can make you more effective than you've ever been in your life.

    So when your Disco Inferno turns into a Living Hell, remember what was written 2500 years ago in the Tao Te Ching:

    "Better stop short than fill to the brim.

    Oversharpen the blade and the edge will soon blunt

    Retire when the work is done.

    This is the way of heaven."

    See you at the spa!

    To learn more about the Tao, click here:

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.

    Copyright 2004 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.

    To subscribe to this newsletter, simply send an email with your request to: jim@jimschaffer.com.


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