“Overwhelm is like sitting in a sinking boat where you know you need to start bailing water but instead of bailing water you sit there worrying about drowning.” – One of the most insightful tips a truly great mentor who has since passed once uttered to me. I was amidst a new coaching role, preparing to deliver a big presentation to perspective clients for the company and busy learning my new role, juggling many balls at the same time. I was overwhelmed.
How is it then that one man, named Viktor Frankl, was able to endure a horrific and demoralising event such as the holocaust at the Auschwitz concentration camp all the while forming a new perspective on life which not only helped him get through the dire situation but went on to influence many others since but we can’t seem to get out of our own way and get on with things?
For the large majority of us we don’t experience anything close to what Frankl experienced yet we struggle to deal with our day to day overwhelm. That’s the thing about overwhelm, you become so absorbed with sitting in inaction it debilitates you. It’s what you experience when you’re not in action to address the situation. It can also rear its ugly head from not accepting what is, being stubborn, blaming others, trying to fit 10 blocks into spaces designed for 6.
Everyone has things they're juggling and as a busy leader, I am certain you know this feeling better than anyone.
When dealing with overwhelm it’s about taking yourself out of park and putting yourself into drive. One step at a time.
Follow these three killer tips to combat your overwhelm:
Create some mental space by doing a brain dump. Get everything that is swirling around in your head out onto paper and put a timeframe on it. Clients are always amazed after they have completed this task. Usually they think because this imperative knowledge is safe in storage in their mind that they know what is required to achieve success or take action but in reality their thoughts are muddied and incomplete.
Follow the 3 step process called AMP:
A – Accept things as they are. They aren’t good, they aren’t bad, they just are.
M – Move on. By this I am referring to moving on by finding your purpose, why are you experiencing the overwhelm, what are you going to gain from it? Viktor Frankl had to get out of Auschwitz concentration camp so he could finish writing his manuscript which went on to be one of the best-selling books post war: A man’s search for meaning. I’m guessing you are experiencing overwhelm because you want to do a great job, be of service or experience the freedom to live a life created on your terms. So ask yourself: What is the purpose of this? Once you answer this, as Frankl demonstrates, you can endure almost anything!
P – Plan. Put everything that you scribbled down earlier that is important into an actionable plan to help you manage your day and get yourself out of park and into drive ensuring you arrive at your desired destination as opposed to meltdown mode.
Create habits and rituals that set you up for success each day and give you mental clarity to avoid overwhelm in the first place. Start by looking at the time you get up and getting some exercise. Being in reactive mode is no way to run your day. As Jim Rohn once said, “You run the day or the day runs you.”
Lastly, remember that your mind is a suggestion engine. It is offering you many suggestions all day long and they are simply that, suggestions. You have the power, you can choose to stay stuck in overwhelm or you can choose another suggestion and take action.