Addiction is a crazy thing. It starts so innocently, seems so manageable, and then invisibly takes over every human function in your life. It doesn’t matter if the addiction is to a drug or to work – it always develops the same way. The person (future addict) says things like, “I’m in control”, “this is just temporary”, “I don’t need this - I am just trying it for a while”. From the outside they may even appear to be holding it together; but on the inside there are signs that cracks are starting to appear and the foundation is starting to give.
More and more we have seen an addiction to the acceleration of work. Some may lean on the “we are in the startup mode” or “we are just in a critical time so we need to push as hard as we can”. These story lines all subtly and unconsciously consume you because they are all true. What isn’t true is that you have no control of how you deal with the choices you have even in these situations.
The truth is that adrenaline rushes are fun. Success is a blast. Being part of a team who is pushing through barriers is invigorating. Interestingly enough, when you talk to heroin addicts, they describe the same rush and the same feeling. They also share how they mistakenly fall into the narcissistic trap of thinking that they are unique, that they can play with the drug without getting consumed, and that they are in control. The problem is that they all crash and unfortunately so do many executives who don’t recognize their addiction to the acceleration of their work and to the adrenaline they are living off of.
After 25 years in the fire service and responding to hundreds of overdoses, and 12 years of working with top executives, coaches, athletes, and other high performers, I can see the signs of this addiction forming from a 100 miles away. These signs include:
_you are too busy to finish a conversation
_you are glued to your phone and info lust and immediately connect every spare second you have
_you no longer differentiate distractions from purposeful focus because it all needs to be done and it all needs “your” attention
_you run from meeting to meeting but you can’t remember where you came from or why you are here
_you start snapping your fingers and expecting everyone around you to move faster, think faster, do faster
_you even grab a quick workout which isn’t short and precise - it is just a rushed workout where you compromise form, technique, and training smart
_you find it more and more difficult to exhale, even when you are away from work
As you know from everything Tignum teaches, writes about, and stands for that we embrace stress and chaos. We live in the real world where real challenges exist, and we know that staying calm during chaos is very tough. In fact, it is one of the key things that separate a swimmer from a floater.
I learned many years ago that the fire captain who got calmer when the stuff was hitting the fan was the true professional. I also learned that this didn’t happen by luck or chance; it was something that was purposefully practiced, required discipline, and was built into their self-image. Most important, I learned that these unique leaders weren’t faking calmness. They knew their own limits and the limits of their crews, they knew what to say no to, they created small recovery breaks so they didn’t overboil even when others thought it was impossible, and they never, never, never took themselves too seriously.
Addiction is nothing more than a habit but unfortunately it is usually an unconscious habit to the wrong things. Sustainable High Performance is about purposefully creating the habits (Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, Recovery, and Peak Performance preparation habits) to allow yourself to bring your best to those things that matter most to you. Leaders who commit themselves to their own Sustainable High Performance and to the Sustainable High Performance of those around them consistently outperform all others, they are more fun to work with, and they live long lives full of impact.
The next choice is all yours and as always I would love to know what you think.
By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer