Are you hesitating asking for more from your employees, whether that’s more work, more engagement, more accountability, more sanity – because asking for more would mean creating more stress in an already stressful situations? And you don’t want to make things worse – but things really DO need to change?
I’m going to share THE ONE single key you need to know BEFORE asking for more – to make sure you’re adding working smarter to working harder. This is important information because it’s what’s needed to evolve HOW you’re working – so you can get the right stuff done to achieve the results and growth your business needs.
Before you simply start audaciously asking for MORE – you need to understand your current situation, like how a traveler embarking on a journey needs to know their starting point.
When you travel you use a map – maybe a GPS or compass. You need to know your current location or situation to know how to get to your destination. Your X marks the spot – you are HERE.
This X includes knowledge of whether you’re coming from a survival or scarcity mindset. IF you are experiencing overwhelm, burnout, firefighting or feeling like you could never do or BE enough – you are in a scarcity mindset – and asking for MORE is going to simply create more overwhelm and burnout – which is NOT working smarter – it’s actually unconsciously DOING which I sometimes describe as being in a stupor.
From surviving – you’re going to feel a lack of confidence and probably guilt about asking for more and so things just keep getting worse.
If your X starting point is a place of scarcity thinking – you’ll likely be thinking more is better but it will NEVER be enough – because you’re starting from not enough. Working harder and harder and harder – but it’s never enough. If you can’t imagine life without overwhelm – you’re living in scarcity thinking!
You CAN audaciously and confidently ask for more and NOT create burnout. I’m going to describe to you HOW in a series of follow-up videos.
But FIRST we need for YOU, the leader here, to change your starting location, so you ADD working smarter to working harder.
And that starts with knowing that survival and scarcity thinking is NOT a given. It’s not “just the way life is” – a competitive world where there are only winners and losers. Yes this is true is some places. And it’s NOT the only reality possible!
The alternative starting location that will get you OUT of scarcity thinking and INTO working smarter – is abundance thinking.
And to get there, it’s important to understand what happens to your brain and body with scarcity thinking.
Tunnel vision or tunneling is a NORMAL physiological response that happens in your body in the presence of scarcity thinking.
This information is based on the book Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir if you want a lot more info about scarcity thinking.
Here’s what happens with scarcity and tunneling:
-If you feel like something is missing, your brain focuses on the missing thing, which amplifies that missing thing. For example in the book Scarcity, they talked about a starvation study, where people who were hungry watched film, and it was discovered that they mostly focused on the meals in the movie.
-You’re able to focus on the missing thing – maybe that’s solving a problem – and focus on the problem to the exclusion of everything else.
This is great when you’re taking a test but awful if you need to see ANYTHING outside the scope of the tunnel – say NEW information needed to solve the root cause of a problem that requires thinking outside of the tunnel – like collaborating with someone NOT within your normal work experience.
-You might solve the problem but patterns of scarcity WILL continue. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle – that’s why overwhelm and burnout feel like they are inevitable – a given when in reality they are NOT. They are actually a symptom of scarcity thinking!
THE key to understand is that when you’re in survival mode, in scarcity thinking – it makes you LESS capable, according to the authors of Scarcity. I would add it makes you less confident about asking for more.
If you are going to audaciously ask your employees for MORE – to fuel innovation that leads to extraordinary results and sustainable growth – WITHOUT burning them out – you need to make sure they are CAPABLE of more AND working smarter – which means stepping OUT of scarcity thinking into abundance thinking – again more on the abundance piece later.
To START, you’ll need to get YOURSELF into a capable and confident place:
-Stop and notice your state of mind. Notice when YOU are in overwhelm / scarcity thinking. If you feel blame or shame or judgment about the tunneling “mistakes” you’re making – just stop it. What you’re experiencing is a conditioned biological response, the result of tunnel vision – and flogging yourself doesn’t help.
It can feel like you’re in quicksand – where you keep sinking deeper and deeper into a hole rather than getting out where you can get up to a place with a view to see what’s happening and get traction on possible ways to move forward.
-Focus on YOURSELF first, not your employees. When YOU as a leader are tunneling – you ARE contributing to a culture and environment of scarcity and overload. You’ll need to learn how to shift YOURSELF out of scarcity – which is actually rooted in
FEAR – into working smarter and more capacity – before you ask others to do this.
-NEXT you need to schedule time to DO NOTHING. Stop with the busy and just pause. Notice your breath. Notice your body – where you feel tension – where you feel relaxed. This action causes a pattern interrupt in your fear-based biological reactions and allows time and space for your autonomic nervous system to CALM DOWN.
This step will STOP the default physiological tunneling response and START building your CAPACITY for more – it will build your energetic BANDWIDTH for more.
This pause will shift you from a starting point of quicksand to solid ground – so instead of creating perpetual burnout and overwhelm – you will take action that moves you forward in smarter, more sustainable ways.
-You need to know that often taking a pause can be very tricky, because big feelings usually lurk beneath your busy activities – feelings that you’ve been avoiding.
Building bandwidth and capacity demands presence to feelings that have been stealing life-force energy from you: worry, doubt, anxiety – that ONLY can be resolved with time and attention rather than pushing them away via avoidance and denial – for example by being relentlessly busy.
You might want to work with a therapist or coach on how to DEAL with these feelings, because FEELINGs can be powerfully
USEFUL in building capacity in the form of confidence, clarity AND courage. For example, worry and blame about something not getting done could actually be caused by a performance issue you’re not addressing because you’re uncomfortable with conflict – and conflict can actually be a beautiful tool to use to build capacity.
-Finally, make sure you’re doing things that aren’t work related, that are nourishing. Example: gardening for me. Something you ENJOY! You’ll need to discover these activities for yourself – you could think of these as bandwidth medicine!
Bottom line: Notice tunnel vision. Pause, interrupt default reaction, breathe, give yourself time to get out of the quicksand of scarcity thinking and onto more solid ground – where you feel calm, energized and CAPABLE of doing more – from a place of feeling like enough:
Think I am enough, I do enough, I have enough – and you will travel on a SMARTER path where the reality of ENOUGH is TRUE!
NOW we can talk about HOW to audaciously ask your employees for more without burning them out. And the first step is to teach them about the difference between scarcity thinking / tunneling and abundance thinking / bandwidth.
I’ll talk more about HOW to ask for more in my next video. For now know that YES it is possible to audaciously ask for more from your employees without burning them out AND it starts with YOU stepping out of scarcity thinking and abundance thinking.