Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Why You Want to be Joan Rivers in your Office

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Today a guest post from Achim Nowak, President & Founder of INFLUENS.

I read his weekly energy boost religiously, and this week’s post was so good that I asked permission to republish it here as a guest post. Thank you Achim! You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here

Raw and fearless

In the onslaught of tributes to comedienne Joan Rivers, these are the adjectives I hear most often.

Raw and fearless.

To people who didn’t like her, Joan Rivers was crass, loud, unabashedly insensitive. Too much.

I liked Joan Rivers. A lot.

One thing was abundantly clear as I watched the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: Rivers was first and foremost an entertainer. She lived to be on-stage. She abhorred not being on-stage.

We are not all entertainers. We are all, however, on stage. All the time.

I get frustrated with the professional who doesn’t embrace that.

The one who doesn’t care enough to” show up.”

Dick Axelrod, author and organizational consultant, delineates two types of meeting participants: Meeting investors and meeting bystanders.

Joan Rivers was an investor.

Raw and fearless was her currency.

Rivers showed up. Big time.

Raw and fearless has, in most business environments, been replaced by polite and fearful.

Even folks who yearn to invest act like a bystander.

Polite and fearful will not get you there.

It simply doesn’t work when you’re on-stage.

I don’t encourage insensitivity. And yeah, raw and fearlessmay be “too much” where you work.

Pick your own currency. Choose how you invest.

What would be “more” without being “too much?”

Bold and inquisitive?

Curious and provocative?

Courageous and surprising?

Probing and opinionated?

Fearless and committed?

Choose to be an investor. Pick your currency. Two adjectives.

Know that polite and fearful will not get you there.

Two adjectives is all it takes.

When you show up at your meetings this week, embody your currency.

You likely won’t sound like Joan Rivers.

But you will instantly BE an investor. You will energize those around you. And you will energize yourself.

Now, that’s not too shabby, is it?

Thank you again Achim for allowing me to reprint your energy boost on The Idolbuster.

You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here


Are You a Leader Who Coaxes, Encourages, and Inspires?

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept by Scott Maxwell via Flickr CC

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept by Scott Maxwell via Flickr CC

A guest post by Don Phin 

Today’s leader is inclusive.

Even a strong leader must discipline himself/herself to take up the right amount of “space,” and that right amount is 40%, especially if he/she wants to work with other strong individuals.

If we’re at less than 40%, we’re out of our personal power and easily manipulated.  We turn ourselves into a victim.  If we’re at anything over 50%, we’ll be turned into a villain by others who will either flee us or prepare for war.  The sweet spot is found by staying at 40%. The room between the 40/40 is the room for the co-creation, for the dance. Fact is, every relationship needs space in order to survive!

80% leaders usually end up having to do most of the work themselves because the people they attract are mostly 20 percenters who will look to them for guidance.  A leader  should never tell a 20% person what’s wrong with them or reject them.  Since they’ve adopted a victim mentality, they will be highly sensitive to rejection.  It will drive them back and they will feel abandoned and betrayed by us.   If we are working in a relationship with a 20% person, we must have the discipline to stay in our 40% and to coax, encourage, and inspire them until they take up their 40%.

Coaxing means letting the person know, gently, that we think they’re OK and we want to play with them.  We say, “Come out and do something with me,” or “Come, talk to me.  I’m not as tough as I look.”  We say every way that we can that we would like to play with them and that we’re safe for them to be with.

Encouragement lets the person knows they’re doing well.  We give them a lot of acceptance and approval for what they’ve done well.  We focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.  We tell them we like them and that we want to keep working on the relationship with them because it’s something valuable to us.

Inspiration entails always going back to the spiritual purpose for being together.  We always want to discover and remind them of the things we’ve got in common and what we’re working towards together.

Today’s humble, yet effective, leader will be a master of coaxing, encouraging, and inspiring!

Don Phin is the founder and President of HR That Works, a powerful program used by more than 3,000 companies nationwide. Don has a unique ability to bridge various disciplines and take a common-sense approach toward workplace relationships. Learn more about Don.

How To Have Sustainable Success

Self Portrait By Jillian Corinne Via Flickr CC

A guest post by Health Coach Catherine Chen, Ph.D.

Do you sometimes fall into this trap?

If I finish this project, then I can relax.

If I get approval from my boss, then I will feel more competent.

If I work on what I want, then I’ll feel like I’m making a difference.

“If-then” thinking is problematic because we don’t actually focus on the present moment. By being concerned with the outcome, we don’t fully mentally engage with what we’re doing or the lessons presented to us. By the time we do achieve the result, we may not feel like we’ve accomplished anything meaningful because the entire journey felt like a blur (life crisis, anyone?).

If we continue to stay in this thought-trap and achieve our desired result, we never feel like we’ve gotten “there” because there is always more to follow. If you finish the project, there’s follow-up work to do, or if you get that promotion or the dream project, unforeseen responsibilities follow, making you wish that you took the time to enjoy what you were doing before. It’s like climbing a mountain quickly to reach the top, only realizing when you get there that there’s more to climb and that you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the views earlier (and now won’t have the energy to do so!). The key is to not bank on a result to make you feel a certain way. Feelings that arise from external accomplishments are fleeting, but attitudes independent of results will sustain you.

How can you relax/feel more confident/make a difference with the role you have right now? You can be as relaxed, confident, or impactful as you want to be, right now. Find friends or family (or a Health Coach!) to support you towards taking actions that give you a sense of mastery and pro-actively support you towards feeling what you desire. For example, engage with people you care about to relax. Offer to help a colleague with your expertise to be valuable.

Release self-induced pressure by taking action towards feeling what you desire right now, rather than making your feelings dependent on an outcome over which you have no control.

Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a Health Coach who supports high-octane professionals to achieve with ease, have time for what they love, and live a balanced life. Prior to launching her wellness practice, she worked in the management consulting industry and at one of the leading cancer research biotechnology companies. She’d love to hear from you at Or, sign-up to get work-life balance tips at

How Forgiveness Can Set You Free

Steve by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr CC

Today a guest post from Anda Tudor from  Anda shares a wonderful parable about forgiveness.

Even to the kindest, forgiveness does not come easy. The feeling of bitterness, of having been wronged, and the desire to take revenge is almost tangible.  Although it seems hard, forgiveness sets you free. As Coach Bob Proctor puts it ‘It doesn’t matter where you are; you are nowhere compared to where you can go.’

A teacher once asked her students to bring a sack to class. Intrigued, everyone brought a sack and found a mountain of potatoes on the teacher’s desk. There was laughter and sniggering and much speculation about what the assignment would be.

The teacher then asked each one of them to make a list of people they couldn’t forgive, and then to take one potato for each name.  Soon, the mountain disappeared and the teacher had to call for additional potatoes. Then, the students wrote one name on each potato.  When the students were done, she asked them to put all the potatoes in the sack and carry it around with them at all times for three days. Whether they were heading to the store or going on a date, the sack had to be with them.

After the third day, the teacher asked about their experiences.  In a word, it was horrible.  It was such a fuss to carry the sack at all times;  people stared and laughed. The students couldn’t enjoy their time properly, feeling self conscious and judged.

The teacher smiled and said that the sack of potatoes is the mental and spiritual burden you carry when you don’t forgive others. You are never truly free or  at peace in your life  unless you shed these past inhibitions and move on.

It is difficult to forgive others, and some do not deserve our forgiveness but by not forgiving them, you are the one carrying the burden around, not them. ‘Issue a blanket pardon. Forgive everyone who has ever hurt you in any way. Forgiveness is a perfectly selfish act. It sets you free from the past’- Brian Tracy

What has been your experience with forgiveness?  Did you ever feel that it lifted a burden from your back?

Guest poster Anda Tudor Anda Tudor is the Public Relations Manager of, the first open network for coaches, consultants and advisors.  You can learn more about and it’s services for individual and career growth here.  


Six Ways to Turn Panic Into Urgency

Don’t Panic Badge by Jim Linwood via Flickr CC

Today, a guest post from Jarie Bolander. Busting Your Corporate Idol will return on Monday 

Panic is a horrible feeling.

When we panic, our stress levels have increased to the point where we feel out of control. This increases our anxiety and makes it more difficult to focus and make good decisions.

Many poor decisions, overworking, stress, anxiety and guilt can be attributed to panic. That’s why it’s important to change panic into urgency.

Urgency conveys the appropriate and right response to any situation while panic pushes our fight or flight buttons.

Urgency shows that we are in control while panic shows our lack of control.

Urgency demonstrates a command of the facts while panic shows we don’t know what’s going on.

Urgency instills confidence in those around us while panic makes others, well, panic.

Panic is Natural

Panic is a natural response to a life threatening situation. It’s a primal emotion that has helped us adapt, overcome and survive life threatening situations. It’s only logical that panic would carry on to modern humans because our ancestors used it to survive.

Nowadays, we don’t really face any life threatening situations where panic is warranted. Even during real life threatening situations, panic will most likely make the situation worst.

If panic is ingrained in our DNA, then how can we switch panic into the more manageable urgency?  Consider these six ways to do just that.

Way #1: Pause and Just Breath

Most panic happens when we react without thinking and our stress levels are high enough to push us over the edge. The good news is that panic is triggered by events known to us and the second and probably most important, is that panic is our fight or flight responses miss-firing in the absence of true danger.

By pausing and taking a deep breath, we can calm ourselves down and think about how the situation or event is triggering our fight or flight response and reassure ourselves that there is no danger — just an uncomfortable situation that we should deal with urgently.

Way #2: Apply The 24 Hour Rule

Decisions made in a panic will most likely be poor. By delaying a decision, for 24 hours if possible, it will allow us to gather more data and make the decision in a calm state.

The 24 hour rule is a great way to reduce corporate panic as well. In almost all cases, a corporate decision, be it a new result or competitor, can and should be delayed in order to either confirm the data or event or formulate a better plan.

Way #3: Explore Alternatives

When we feel we have no control over a situation, we tend to panic.

This panic prompts us to attempt to quickly fix whatever is broken. In some ways, this progress, even if it’s bad, makes us feel at least something is being done.

It also reduces the criticism of others that nothing is being done. If we are running around in a frenzied panic, our boss or colleagues will at least get the sense we care.

Outwardly, it may appear that progress is being made, but in reality, the moment panic sets in, progress will be haphazard, slow and consume more resources.

It’s much better to explore other ways to solve the issue or situation before just jumping into a totally random path or continue down an unproductive path.

When we explore alternatives, it also gives us more of a sense of control of the situation which will reduce our level of anxiety and panic.

Way #4: Get Unnaturally Calm

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, in this article, recounts the advice his father gave him about managing fear (which is the precursor to panic). His dad’s advice was:

“The most important lesson my dad taught me was how to manage fear. Early on, he taught me that in a time of emergency, you’ve got to become deliberately calm. He used to say, “The more people are yelling and screaming around you, the calmer you should become. Become unnaturally calm. Somebody’s got to be able to figure a way out of the jam. And you’ll be able to do that.” — Rudy Giuliani

That advice served Mayor Giuliani well during September 11th and the subsequent panic that ensued.

Remaining calm during a crisis takes practice and not everyone can pull it off but it’s important to remember that those that remain calm and carry on will be more able to deal with stressful situations.

Way #5: Slow Down

After pausing, it’s important to assess the situation and deliberately slow down and think about what to do. Obviously in cases of life and death, rapid reactions are important but even then, if you feel yourself starting to panic, taking that deep breath and slowing down the situation, if practical. This will still maintain a sense of urgency but reduce the level of panic considerably.

How slow should you go? The pace of urgency is just enough to show that the situation is important but not too much that we feel we must make hasty decisions. Decisions made in haste will be of lower quality and may even exacerbate our level of panic.

Way #6: Go With the Flow

We all have the illusion of control to some degree or another. Greg’s example here of when Pat had a panic attack because he felt he had control when he really did not illustrates that we can only attempt to guide a situation to resolution — we really can’t completely control everything.

Once we realize that we don’t have complete control of a situation, we can more easily reduce our panic and go with the flow of the situation.

This is especially important when others rely on us to solve complex problems. It’s extremely tempting to feel empowered and in control to get things done when really it’s just an illusion that we all need to realize.

Reduce Panic and Live a Better Life

My hope is that all of us can reduce the levels of stress and panic we feel when things don’t go exactly as planned. By striving to do this, we can make better decisions and live a fuller, panic free life. Switching the times we panic into urgency will help us do just that.

Are their other ways that we can switch the panic we feel into urgency? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Jarie Bolander is an engineering by training, entrepreneur by nature and leader by endurance. His site, combines two of this passions — leadership and endurance athletics. He is also the author of #ENDURANCE tweet — A Little Nudge to Keep You Going. Feel free to follow him on Twitter via @EnduranceLeader