We’ve all been there: under pressure and overwhelmed.
Too much to do.
Too much to juggle.
Too much to keep track of, all the while feeling more and more out of control.
And when it’s happening we keep looking for a way out. How many times have you thought – if I can just get to the end of this project, the end of the week, or the end of the month, then things will get easier? Things will be different. I won’t feel this way, and I won’t have to do all this on my own.
But reality bites
And the reality is, as one project ends, another drama begins. And as you get to the end of the week, before you know it’s Sunday evening and you’re at your computer for the third time that weekend trying to get ahead of the next onslaught.
It’s times like these when we’d like to take less responsibility. I know hundreds of business owners who have joked about going and getting a job so it can all be someone else’s responsibility. Of course, that’s never a real option, because entrepreneurs are just wired differently. Getting a job is only ever a means to an end, and their real calling is to be leading out front – come pressure, responsibility and late Sunday nights on the computer.
But when you’re in the thick of the pressure, with too much to do – and chaos happening around your ears – what is the one thing you can do to reduce the overwhelm and create a positive outcome?
Widen Your Circle of Responsibility
Well, as bizarre as this may seem the answer is to widen the circle of what you take responsibility for. This is not to mean you beat yourself up when things go wrong, or that you take on more of the tasks (this is the opposite to what you should be doing). What this means, is that you realise that you are at cause, the ultimate cause, of everything that is going on in the business. You are creating events to learn and discover things you haven’t yet internalised.
You see, what I’ve noticed with business owners, is that when they are feeling the most stressed and overwhelmed, is when they are trying to directly control everything, AND at the same time are anxious because they feel lots of elements are beyond their control: I don’t know how to get more leads in, the economy is bad out there, my staff keep going off sick – how can I run a business with unreliable people…
And the solopreneurs feel anxious about other things: I just can’t motivate myself (like their personal motivation is beyond their influence), my website designer is just not doing anything, my JV partner is just letting me do all the work…
Notice how all these things are framed as just beyond their circle of control?
And being aware of this subtly is a HUGE part of the battle. If you can identify where you’re doing this, then we have a chance of fixing it.
- Right now, before you click another thing, or scroll another page… jot down on a piece of paper all the things that are stressing you out. Go on – this will make way more sense when you do it for your own situation.
- Now looking at that list, can you see how you believe that those things are beyond what you can control? Even if you can only see it straight away for about 50% of them – that’s a great start. Good job. 🙂
Now, keep reading to discover how to overcome these feelings, and MASSIVELY reduce the pressure.
How to Reduce the Overwhelm and Pressure
The key to this is being able to recognise that everything in your business is your responsibility. It’s the way it is because on some level you created it like that. Remember this golden rule. In fact, jot it on a post it and stick it on the side of your screen, or somewhere you will look at it.
You Are the Cause of Everything in Your Business
This isn’t to say anything is your fault.
On the contrary.
But everything that goes on, whether it’s staff playing up, or staff shining, it’s all a reflection of what’s going on in your internal world, and a brilliant learning opportunity to discover more of your own inner wiring.
That being the case, these thoughts and feeling are recreated in situations in your business because you need to experience them in order to release the emotional charge around it (that keeps recreating the situation), and assimilate it into your wisdom.
Thoughts and feelings about anything will affect what shows up in your world.
If you dwell on thoughts of fear, overwhelm and chaos in your business – even though you’re pushing against them, you are still pulling that into your experience… because that is what you are thinking about (and what you think about creates your reality).
The way to overcome this is ultimately to allow yourself to drop these thoughts and feelings, and recognise that whenever something happens in your world, you created it.
So – when your employees mess up – you created it. But rather on dwelling on it and blaming them, or yourself, you can reflect on it and look at why you might have created it… and then drop it.
For example, it may have occurred for you to demonstrate to yourself that even when they mess up, it doesn’t kill your business. It may be that you are testing yourself to see if you can still keep growing the business, and trusting other people to help you. It may mean that you’ve had this nagging feeling that you should put in place more training or processes, and this problem is just a reflection of those nagging feelings, expressing themselves in reality. The thing is, no one else can know for sure… but the fact that it happens, shows there is something you are trying to tell yourself.
Dig deep, reflect, and then let it go.
The Really Good News
The first thing about this is, even if you don’t like it, accepting it, and taking responsibility for whatever is going on, puts you back in the driving seat, allowing you to create it the way you want it, instead.
The second piece of really great news is that no matter what it is, you don’t have to live with it. Continuing the example –if you’re really worried about people messing up – rather than putting in place a whole bunch of safety nets, or working yourself to the bone to make sure that doesn’t happen – you can work directly at source. In other words, you can release your feelings and fears around this happening… so that you are no longer thinking about it (even subconsciously). Once you’ve released it, it is no longer an issue. Thoughts of this kind no longer even enter your head, let along keep you awake at night.
Why does this work?
Answer: Because your inner world directly CREATES what you experience in your outer world.
And business, YOUR business, is a perfect extension of this. Your business is an expression of what is going on internally…
So how do you go about letting go if these thoughts that create the dramas in your business?
1. Make a list of everything you ever worry about.
2. Look for common themes within those things. It may be that you are afraid of making more money, afraid of responsibility, it may be that you fear running out of money, or upsetting your employees…. whatever it is, just acknowledge it… You don’t have to physically DO anything about it.
3. Set an outcome in the following form: I allow…. with grace and ease. You’ll want to phrase it so that it is in the present and focussed on the outcome you ACTUALLY want, not what you don’t want. So if you’re worried about someone on your team messing up, you actually want a competent team that will bring home the bacon (or tofu if you’re veggie). In that case, you would phrase the outcome as: I allow my team to be completely competent in allowing my business to thrive, with grace and ease.
4. Then you want to look at all the thoughts and feelings that come up that are saying you can’t have that outcome. List them down, feel them, and allow them to evaporate. You’ll be amazed by the shift in feeling, that comes when you do this.
5. Don’t be afraid of spending some time on this. If feelings hang around for a while, that’s ok. Just keep letting them evaporate and eventually you’ll feel much lighter and will no longer be plagued by the drama.
Growing a business is full of seeming conflicts. It’s only through experience and careful reflection that these conflicts in logic evaporate, leaving a knowing wisdom.
Taking more responsibility doesn’t mean more trauma, drama and stress. It means just the opposite. It means stepping up, but letting go of having to deal with everything yourself. It means taking responsibility at the deepest level, for the business, the results, the bottom line, the rest of the team… but at the same time, it means surrendering and letting go. It means letting the team take the reins and helping them develop their skill and talent. It means allowing the customer base to evolve. It means bringing in new opportunities and guiding the ship into unchartered waters, but at the same time collecting enough intel to make sure that those waters are full of fish, not sharks.
This is the art of leadership.
Allow yourself to expand your circle of responsibility, and see the overwhelm and pressure evaporate, and your results soar!
To Your Inevitable Success!
Laura Leigh Clarke