How To Eliminate Overwhelm and Frustration When You’re a Busy CEO

Having spent 20 years across various ‘busy’ roles from being medical doctor, senior corporate executive at Pfizer, technology entrepreneur and eventually in the CEO role my 3rd successive company, I’ve engaged with many fellow CEO’s and studied their behaviours in life and work. I found that the successful ones had some common traits and the ‘unsuccessful’ ones had some common traits too.

Success is defined by an individual, but for CEO’s or Political leaders this is also defined by their boss, shareholders, employees, customers or constituents. Nonetheless, CEO’s are constantly under pressure to meet targets, deal with crisis, fulfil multiple obligations and still be expected to lead a ‘healthy and normal’ personal and family life. As CEO’s understand their own ‘BS’ more deeply, they become more self-aware that their very own behaviours can exacerbate their current ‘crisis’. A CEO can be his or her own worst enemy.

Since I began coaching CEO’s over 8 years ago, I have learnt and taught several techniques to help them continue to pursue their careers at higher levels, whilst managing their responsibilities in their personal life. Often they even have difficulty connecting the relationship between the two worlds, which forms part of the problem.

1.   Quit

This is a perfectly legitimate option. For some CEO’s the pressure of the workload and circumstances surrounding their personal life require more time to be focused on the latter or risk causing irreparable damage to their health or family relationships. In such situations, quitting may appear to be the only option.

However, in some cases, this may also be a ‘get out clause’, used as an excuse for being unwilling to acknowledge one’s own mistakes or recognize how their own behaviours have contributed to their current negative circumstances. In these situations, the vicious cycle of frustration is likely to repeat in future roles.

2.   Be More Present

There is an accepted philosophy that ‘anxiety comes from living too much in the future’ and ‘depression comes from thinking too much about the past’. Busy CEO’s tend to be focused on the next thing even before the current task or interpersonal interaction has ended.

The focus is more on the clock, than on the person in-front of them. This gives an illusion of efficiency and speed, only to find later that subordinates haven’t really understood their instructions and made mistakes that need rework. The actual reason was because they weren’t communicated to in a patient and appropriate manner by their CEO.

The science of Mindfulness has now perpetuated the mainstream corporate and healthcare arena with companies like Google implementing programs for its ‘hypertalented, hyperactive’ employees, both young and old. The program has been such a great success that other Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar mindfulness practices with their own CEO’s and executives

3.   Change Your Expectations, Allow Another Reality

Many CEO’s are consummate achievers that have high expectations of themselves and therefore others. Frustration is an emotion that arises when those expectations are not met. For example, when you expect your CFO to complete the budget in 24 hours, but they can’t get it done on time. Or you expect to meet your annual company goals, but you fall short. Or perhaps you expect your password to work on your company and it doesn’t – all these situations give rise to frustrations.

A relief is felt when you change your expectations. I don’t mean lower them, I mean change them. Perhaps your CFO was being more thorough, and would deliver a more robust budget tomorrow. Perhaps falling short of your annual company goals provides you with a better business case to hire more talented staff. Perhaps your password error means your IT security has just been upgraded and you’ve just averted a major cyber-attack on your servers. Once CEO’s change their expectations and allow new realities to emerge, they can come out mentally stronger.

4.   Meditate

There are now hundreds of thousands of forms of meditations from a multitude of cultures. The benefits are espoused in traditional literature as well as modern science, and can help CEO’s manage overwhelm and stress over the long term. The body of evidence on medicine has exploded in recent years and MRI scans now even denser grey matter in the brains of frequent meditators. Personally, I have found the practice life-changing and allowed me to tap into greater creative thinking and problem-solving ability, as well as more focus and concentration. My initial time investment started at 5 minutes a day (on trains, planes and other ‘dead’ times) and I’ve worked upwards from there, to great effect.

5.   Find your Ikigai

The Japanese believe that every human being has a purpose or a higher calling, which they called their Ikigai. The French call it the ‘raison d’etre’ i.e reason to be. Regardless of race, religion, work status or nationality, having a clear purpose in life and connecting with the meaning of your work allows you to see beyond short term frustrations and bad days, and understand how they actually contribute to your personal growth, vision and mission.

CEO’s that connect with their Ikigai in an authentic manner don’t have to fake liking their job; they love their job and it shows. It shows to their employees, it shows to their customers and it shows to their shareholders. It allows them to tap into a deeper sense of fulfilment and commitment, that sees them through their business challenges and personal hardships.

The first step to finding your Ikigai is to simply answer 4 questions as genuinely as possible, and to find the intersection. The 4 questions are:

1.     What do you love doing?
2.     What does world need? (problem to solve)
3.     What can I get paid for? (how to monetize)
4.     What am I good at? (True Strengths)

ikigai-001

The truth is that there are quick and easy solutions for CEO’s to minimize overwhelm and frustration in the short term (days to weeks). However, in order to achieve a higher level of performance in the long term (weeks to months to years), I often advise my clients that behavior change is an active process that requires more effort, but yields much greater more satisfying rewards in life, career and legacy.

New Mobile App & Tools for Wellness

In recent times, organizations are looking for new and better ways of engaging their employees and obtaining the highest level of performance from staff, plus a myriad of engagement programs and surveys. These organizations are still challenged with ensuring the wellbeing of employees not only in the workplace but also out of the workplace.

The reason for this is that they started to realize that holistic wellness is determined not only within the work environment but also the balance between work and life. And organizations are starting to realize that they have to play a bigger role in the bigger picture of an employee’s life and wellbeing in order to ensure that their physical output at work are the best that they can be.

In my talks to members of the New South Wales Business Chamber (NSWBC), I addressed CEOs, HR directors and HR Managers from these organizations on how they can implement wellness as a high performance strategy for their organization. I covered a number of aspects including Personal Wellness Diagnostic  where attendees spent 10 minutes scoring their own wellbeing using our proprietary wellness tool.

I encourage you to give this tool a go as it only takes 10 minutes and it immediately gives a snapshot of your personal wellbeing. It also then guides you as to some of the actions that you need to take in order to restore your wellbeing and give yourself the best chance of performing at a high level.

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In addition, if you are a CEO, HR Manager or HR Director, I’ve also attached the slides from my presentation at the NSWBC which you can view and utilize the information to help you with implementing a wellness program that delivers the best results for your employees.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out by emailing me at avnesh@energesse.com and I’d be happy to spend 30 minutes with you on how you can use the information to best enhance the lives and performance of your employees.

Finally, I’d also like to mention that I was recently invited to join a group of technology entrepreneurs in San Francisco who have created this app called Audvisor. This app has incredible bits of audio advice for executives on a whole variety of topics including wellness, but also on high performance, innovation, management, marketing and various other aspects of business.

audvisor

I highly encourage you to download this app as it’s free and incredibly useful to broaden your horizon and explore new areas of advice.

Once again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to be Me

At the recent UPLIFT festival in Byron Bay, I met some of the most world renowned speakers in health, consciousness and spirituality and one of the most friendly and congenial was Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to be Me.

Her book reached the New York Times bestseller list only two weeks after its release in March 2012. She experienced what most people have never thought was possible – she “crossed over” to the other side following a coma due to her end stage cancer.

You see, Anita was suffering from terminal lymphoma for four years and was wheeled hurriedly into hospital one day when she could no longer breathe. She had large cancer lumps all over her body and was given little chance of living by her doctors.

In the hospital she slipped into a coma and what they thought was her last hours. Miraculously, she returned to consciousness 48 hours later, not only feeling better but also had a ‘Near Death Experience’ (NDE), where she left her body and could perceive everything that was going on around her during her coma.

Her depiction was so detailed that doctors could not believe it. Little could they believe that her cancerous lumps disappeared completely after only 4 weeks. This was an outcome she ‘saw’ when on the other side, and from a place of higher consciousness.

In my interview with Anita, I was very interested in whether she thought modern medicine could be done differently to help people heal from cancer as well as other diseases.

Her response was very interesting. Anita was clear that her cancer was exacerbated by her sense of fear. She was constantly living in fear of the disease as she had known people close to her suffer from it. She had an extremely healthy lifestyle and watched her nutrition very carefully, but this did not seem to help.

Anita made it a point to say that emotional health plays a big part in how a disease progresses. I have certainly seen this in a number of latest studies on the relationship of stress with various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

She was also very adamant to point out that love is the counter point to fear. When we are in love, we do not feel fear and she also mentioned that in her experience of the afterlife, she felt unconditional love.

If there was anything she would advise people suffering from diseases, is to surround themselves with love and to love themselves, first and foremost. She also advised healthcare professionals to try and incorporate love and better emotional health strategies to help people recover from their illnesses.

I couldn’t agree more.

I’ll be sharing more on my interview with Anita and other speakers from UPLIFT in future. If you could ask Anita one question – what would it be?

How to overcome any health issue – 5 Secret Steps

A couple of weeks ago, I invited one of my practitioners from Energesse, Jenny Fitzgerald to give a presentation on ‘How To Overcome any Health Challenge’. After having been a doctor for many years, I did not think it was possible to have one consistent strategy for every illness under the sun. But frankly I was very surprised when Jenny’s tips did indeed resonate with me for treating any medical condition.

The reason is that in western medicine, we are often focused on fixing the physical or sometimes mental components of a condition and very rarely do we consider the emotional impact or component of the illness.

As such, Jenny’s experience as a vastly experienced Counsellor, Life Coach, Conflict Resolution practitioner and Energy coach provided a unique insight into the emotional aspects of disease. And wouldn’t you know it, every illness, trauma or medical condition has an emotional component.

Here are her recommended these 5 simple steps to instantly change your health and wellbeing.

  1. Acceptance: Guide yourself to fully accepting the situation you are currently in. Don’t play victim.
  2. Deal with the emotions that arise: Take the time to accept how you feel in the present moment. These emotions are normal, embrace them as they emerge.
  3. Get Support: Find people who support you in your journey to health. Friends and family can sometimes help, but occasionally they don’t have the skills. In these situations, seek professional support.
  4. Discover your strengths: Find out what you are truly good at and apply that to your journey to health. Get others to help you with the areas that you are not good at, perhaps daily motivation or creativity in the recovery routine.
  5. Take Action: Decide what you need to do to make permanent changes to your life and health. Outline a plan and go do it!

To watch the full webinar that was held with Jenny, simply click here.

It was truly astounding to learn how much our daily emotional state can significantly affect your health. I have in the past had strong negative feelings around stressful situations, particularly in relation to any risk of me failing as a CEO.

Sometimes I would even get stressed about the Sunday driver in front of me who drives as slow as possible or when the restaurant I went to messed up my order. Particularly during one of my last business ventures, I found myself feeling irritable most of the time, in reaction to even the smallest things. Whilst on the outside I would appear calm and cool, on the inside I was firing up.  As a result, I made lifestyle choices that were unhealthy.

Negative states of mind are kind of like a road map or an alert system, that lets you know when you need to make changes in your life. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux thinks emotions are the precursor to life outcomes and wrote in The Emotional Brain that “…once emotions occur they become powerful motivators of future behaviors. They chart the course of moment-to-moment action as well as set the sails toward long-term achievements.”

Your emotions affect your physical wellbeing. In another study conducted by Sheldon Cohen, PhD, psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, 193 subjects were assessed to determine their level of positive emotions (including happiness, calmness, and liveliness). He then exposed participants to a virus—and found that people who scored low on positive emotions were three times as likely to succumb to the bug.

Our emotions and thoughts fuel our body’s energy system. We have the choice of how we think which in turn dictates the choices that we make. Once we can more efficiently control our emotions and identify our triggers, we take full control of our lives. So don’t wait until you are too ill to take action, take the steps now to change the course of your life.

If you do just one thing around your emotional health, here’s a tip of the day: ‘Tune in’ to your emotions a few times a day and ask yourself – “how am I feeling right now?” And just listen to what your body tells you.

Have you ever a sensed a strong emotional connection as a part of your illness?

The importance of taking time for yourself

Did you miss the opportunity to attend our live Master class with Irina Gladuschenko? Her incredibly informative and insightful session covered how to control our emotions and how they can help improve our relationships. IF you missed it or would like to see it again, the good news is we’ve made it available online. You can click on the link below to see the entire Master Class from start to finish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRXXJ3Uw7Qs


“The time you take for yourself daily is a must, not an option
By Avnesh Ratnanesan


These last ten days I have been on a speedy two part holiday which firstly took me back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I celebrated the birthdays of both my mother and father, who have their birthday’s one day apart. The second part involved a trip to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, where I spent several days out in the natural wilderness of Kakadu, a World Heritage Site with wonderous animal and plant life.

The actual decision to take a long holiday was rather spur of the moment, I simply felt drawn to go away for a good while and to spend it with people and locations largely unrelated to my work.

My intuition, i.e. the sixth sense which arises from our Brow (Third Eye) Chakra knew that it was exactly what I needed and was clearly indicating to me that it was time to go away. I listened to my body, or if you like my ‘higher self’ or subconscious mind which was clearly instructing me in no uncertain terms. When I initially resisted the urge to go away and stay with work, I kept getting very uneasy sensations, so I gave in to my inner voice. And that was the right decision.

The change of Environmental energy (one of the 7 areas of the Energesse Wellness Wheel) gave me the time I needed to reflect on many important things, particularly what I really want in my life and whether what I was working on was getting me there. All too often we get stuck in the grind of doing what we think we want, and then several years later look back and say “Well, I’ve done it now….and I’m still not happy…… so what was my life all about?”

The fact is your body and its subtle energy system already know what you want. It is always speaking to you, it’s just that most people don’t listen to it – they have lost the ability to connect with themselves. A change of environment from the usual routine of daily life, allows for some major listening to happen, and some real breakthroughs to emerge about what you really want. It is also the most efficient and fastest way to get there – saving you years of time. Reconnecting with your inner self can actually help you be more productive for the rest of your life.

Pulitzer prize–winning writer John Updike, author of 51 books, attributes his astonishing productivity to a schedule that honors empty time. “Ideally,” he explains, “much of my day should be, in a strict sense, idle, for it is often in idle moments that real inspiration comes.” It allows you the time you need to reassess your life of maybe even acknowledge situations or people that are affecting you in ways that you are not initially aware of. So whether it is an hour writing in your journal or a backpacking trip to South America, simply taking the time to acknowledge the desires of your soul can create an abundance of opportunities in your life and maybe even lead you down a path you least expected!

Being GOOD vs. Being NICE

“Living up to an image that you have of yourself or that other people have of you is inauthentic living.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

As I was sitting at a café on Saturday morning, psyching myself up for another day of writing a chapter in my book, I glanced at the daily paper. I do not spend too much time with newspapers these days as it is often filled with irrelevant negativity and I am prefer to get my news elsewhere. However, whilst sipping a cup of my favourite chamomile tea I came across an article interviewing a famous model.

She was quoted as saying “There’s a difference between being nice and good, I consider myself a good person. And I think people perceive me to be nice as in, ‘Oh, she’s nice,’ but being a good person, knowing your strengths and working towards those strengths, and encouraging those around you to do the same, that’s a good person. A nice person will sit back and go, ‘Oh yes, OK, no worries, yes.’ A nice person is a yes person, whereas a good person is a person who accepts their responsibility in things and moves forward. He or she constantly evolve and isn’t afraid to say no, challenge someone or be honest.”

Most people would expect such profound words from a model, but indeed her thoughts are backed by scientific research. The Psychology Foundation of Canada reports that one important aspect of your personal self-esteem is feeling that you have a “voice” ─ that you have the right to be listened to and heard in a way that helps you have some control over what happens in your life. When you speak up and stand up for yourself, you are, in effect, saying to yourself and the world, “I am a significant person whose ideas and words are worthy of respect.”

So you can be nice, but also be good – be good to your authentic self.

On Tuesday the 20th of August, we had our first ever live, online Energesse Masterclass on Discovering your Higher Purpose. Both Julian Noel, Higher Purpose consultant and I spoke about living your life’s purpose. We had an amazing turn out from around the world and if you would like to see it again, click here.