I am not too stupid, I am just grieving

Grief is limiting your power. As a high performer, it will be very frustrating to lose your ability to walk the extra mile. Get some ideas how to get through the grieving season – quickest.

“He doesn’t do what I tell him”, the leader complains. “It’s not a hard task… and still the result is poor.” Frustration is all over the place and the deadline is moving closer. A conversation about the situation of the employee starts – and all of a sudden a new story unravels. The team member went through a major loss lately. Emotional chaos and inner turmoil are limiting the ability to perform at best. While the leader is talking about all of those information, a new perspective on the situation evolves. The work is not yet done, but as the frustration leaves, new solution scenarios come up.

If you have gone through a major loss in life, you probably know how it feels not to be at the peak of performance. Details get lost. Deadlines seem insignificant. Colourful job tasks fade in grey.

It is a time when the focus of life shifts. And while some work is very helpful to keep a routine in life, one should not strive for high performance in order to kill the pain inside. Grief is real. Grief is painful.

Did you know that your brain cannot distinguish between the pain of a broken leg and the pain of emotional loss? Pain is processed the same. And you would not work with a broken leg one day after the surgery. Equally, you need to give yourself a bit of grace and rest when walking through grief.

For business people and high performer, this topic is important twofold:

  1. If you are a leader and your team member walks through grief, you need to know how to react.
  2. If you are a high performer walking through grief at any stage of your career, you need to know how to handle that situation.

Here are some thoughts

Tell people that you are grieving

You don’t have to say more or give details. But let your boss, colleagues and team members know, if you are walking through a tough time. “If I may seem absent at moments, it is not because I am not interested, but I am having a hard time at the moment.”

As a leader, you don’t need to help or say anything. A simple ‘I hear you’ is enough.

Go to bed early

If days are awful, make them at least short. In addition, you will need more sleep anyways as grief is taking a lot of energy. Especially if you are continue working … this is not the time for long office hours. Take your rest and you will get through this time quicker.

As a leader, be aware that rest is contributing to recovery. Take your team member out of heavy-fire-situations. Even if that person is requesting to work extra hard – coverage of pain through work is prolonging the healing and might end in burn out.

Have mercy – with yourself

Especially as a high performer, you love being productive and get stuff done. And exactly that skill is limited by grief. So you are not only grieving, but in addition, you feel like being useless.

The immediate reaction is to try to perform again – so that there is only the grief and not the feeling of uselessness. Unluckily, this approach is not successful. Your soul needs some time to let go and say goodbye. And it needs your mind and body to do that. You are one whole human being – and you cannot grief partially and work full-speed partially.

The ‘quickest’ route through grief is facing-the-giant wholeheartedly. Focus on the grief. Write, speak, weep. Whatever needs to be done. You will make it through. And once that time is over, you have your power back for high performing. Promised.

How to effectively recharge

Give your body, soul and mind a break from the daily hustle in order to get new power and creative ideas for your life. Find in this article some inspiration on how to effectively recharge.

The warmth of the heated towel is wrapping me softly and I gently sink into the relaxation chair. I slowly breathe out. My eyes wander to the snow-covered mountains behind the glass front. The sun is just touching the tip of the granite giant before it settles for the night. My recharge weekend starts.

When was the last time you took time for yourself? Time solely dedicated for rewinding your body, soul and mind. Time unplugged from your daily rush and from your online presence lets your mind and soul settle. Overflow of information can be processed and while doing “nothing” your brain gets the chance to recharge for new creativity.

Let’s dive into some thoughts what could help you to relax.

Change places

As long as you are in your usual environment your brain works on autopilot and you don’t discover new things. You even stay on track what to eat or what to do at what time. When you change your place, your brain is forced to find new ways. You are in explore-mode. And automatically you will “forget” to think about your problems and stress factors.

Work out

Use your time off to move your body. Especially when you are in a job that rather requires thinking than moving, use your time well for some activity. Doing your favourite sport helps your brain relax. Or you find yourself a new activity that challenges you mentally in a different way as you learn new movements.

Let go

If you come from a time of great stress, take some time for your soul to calm down as well, e.g. by journaling or meditation. You probably know that spinning of your mind that continues although you are in the middle of paradise. In that case your soul and mind need some help.

Suggestion No. 1 if your mind is stuck on open to-dos: Take a piece of paper and write down all to-dos that are still bothering you and that you will solve after your return. Put that piece of paper away and tell your brain to relax. It has been taken care of; now it is a decision to lean back.

Suggestion No. 2 if you have trouble with people: Take a piece of paper and start to write a letter – to that person, to a friend, to the universe or to God. Whatever suits you. Write down all complaints, unfairness and bad situations. Let your soul be honest and write as graphic as necessary. Maybe you have to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Write everything down. For sure that letter will never be sent. Nevertheless, just by writing you will feel on how the pressure lifts. (Destroy the letter after finishing.)

Mindfully Relax

Allow yourself some hours – or days – of relaxation. Forbit yourself to work or think about problems. Just be. Look at a sunset, a mountain, the ocean … whatever relaxes you. Give your soul and mind time to unwind. Maybe do a mindfulness exercise by precisely answering the following questions: What objects do you see? What colours do you see? What sounds do you hear? How does the air taste? How would you describe the smell around you? Answering those questions draws your attention to the present. And in the present your body, soul and mind are in the same space. Your thoughts do not wander and you will feel alive.

The goal is to fully get into the present. Let go of the past for a while and don’t think about the future. Just stay in the present. It is the place where you fully recharge and get new power for the upcoming tasks. It calms your brain and by erasing all negative thoughts and stress, you are set into a state of new creativity. In one of the next articles I will share some ideas on how to use that state of mind and the creativity within to create a new vision for the time ahead. But for now: stay present and relax.

Empowered by Laughter

“Laughter is fireworks for the soul”, they say. Enlightening this powerful resource at work, will make your day easier.

London. I am in a pub with colleagues. One of them just shares a hilarious story. Everybody laughs. A good laugh. A freeing one. Times flies, stories being shared and as soon as I am inhaling the rainy fresh air of the night, I am feeling energized and reloaded.

What a good laughter is capable of. Its amazing.

I should laugh more. Especially at work. This thought creeps slowly through my mind and I am realizing what has been missing the past weeks. A strengthening, energizing laugh. Running from meeting to meeting, creating tons of slides, squeezing in emails and calls just took too much attention and power.

But actually, when is it easy to laugh at work?

Recalling from experience it is easiest when I know “why” I am there. Working with purpose, knowing there is a goal I am heading to and I am enjoying the ride – with colleagues having a similar mindset.

Let’s take a closer look.

Laughing because you have purpose

I sit in a room full of inspiring motivated people. Everyone is sharing one’s story. Everyone is quite honest. Even with hopes and fears. One cite of a well-situated woman strucks me at heart. She seems to have everything. Being healthy, living in a wealthy environment in a spectacular scenery, having time and money for travelling … the whole package – but she admits the absence of meaningful work and purpose in her life leaves her desperate and empty. And hence, with less laughter than she’d like to have.

My life is nice. But nice isn’t enough.

A lady

Her statement resonates within me. I’m a big fan of living my life outside the comfort zone. Only in a stretch situation I am one step closer to my goal. Although this stretchy moment can cause some fear, the joy that rushes in when I have grown, mastered an obstacle and overcame fear leads to a massive smile and satisfaction.

Where are you just playing „nice“? Remember: you are missing out on a good hero’s laugh.

Laughing because you have people to laugh with

Is it just me or is a day easier when you are with the right pack!?

Luckily I get to work with great colleagues a lot – some becoming friends over time. And I see there is a certain dynamic when a good mix of people is together. Even if a task is hard to manage, a tight timeline needs to be met or a client is getting crazy – with the right team you can handle everything and feeling energized despite stress.

If you haven’t found your tribe yet, continue searching. Some people are meant to work together. In the meantime invest in your mindset and become the best colleague you want to work with. [You might get some inspiration in this classic book from Dale Carnegie (1936) which is used in all US elite universities in the general curriculum: How to win friends & influence people]

Colleagues are key. Make yours laugh today.

Thanks at this point to all my colleagues who are laughing with me. I feel blessed and privileged to have you in my life.