An owner I’m working with told me the other day that he “always feels so upside down.” That’s a good way to describe what a lot of owners and CEOs feel.
Let me let everyone in on a little secret. Every leader feels upside down … a lot.
I’ve been a part of several mentoring programs (as mentee and mentor) and it wasn’t until being with other leaders in a safe setting that I learned almost all of us have big worries, doubts, and concerns that they can’t share with their team or even their spouse.
It’s lonely at the top. Keeping it all bottled up inside makes us feel “upside down.”
At one time or another, we all feel like we’re faking it. Even CEOs of giant corporations can feel like they are going to be found out any day that they are frauds. So the good news … you are at the same spot as everyone else.
The difference between failure and success is how you react to this feeling.
What to do when you are feeling upside down?
1. Knowing is half the battle
Recognize that you are feeling this way and that it’s OK. (see above – it’s normal)
2. Get away from the office
No this isn’t running away. Is your head feeling like it’s going to explode? Staring at the problem isn’t going to help.
I’ve found running outside clears my head and allows me to solve problems that stump me at my desk. Physical exercise is a great way to hit the reset button, even if it’s just a walk around the building.
3. Focus on the one thing you need to accomplish today
The hardest thing to do when you are swimming in a mountain of challenges is to try and solve them all. Write your list. Prioritize it. Then hit the biggest one first. Then go do the next most important thing. Then do the next one after that.
4. Improve performance a little bit every day.
As you knock out major challenges, recognize the accomplishment. Your company just got a little bit better. Imagine if you improved 1% every week for a year. Would you take that right now?
5. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The key to regaining balance is to get into a routine. As creatures of habit we develop bad ones. When we’re upside down we’ve fallen into bad thinking habits and maybe bad acting habits. Following the above will start to create good habits and allow you keep moving forward until it’s how you operate.
It’s OK to feel upside down. We all do at some point inside our businesses. The key is to not get overwhelmed and to break it down into actionable chunks so you can keep moving forward.