Category: Ego

5 Delusions of a Workaholic…

By , May 2, 2012 9:14 pm

“Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. We hear about people burning the midnight oil. They pull all-nighters and sleep at the office. It’s considered a badge of honor to kill yourself for a project. No amount of work is too much work!”

~ Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Workaholism is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY and can destroy your physical and mental health.

It’s a nasty cultural disease – You don’t know it’s happening. Over time you’re consumed with an intoxicating addictive drug called work.

How do I know?

I used to be one until I crashed and burned out… That was my wake up call!

In the last seven days I’ve heard three real-life scenarios from coaching clients who have had their staff:

  1. Rushed into hospital with heart problems
  2. Signed off sick with a stress-related illness
  3. Sobbing at work not being able to cope with the long hours and extra demands on them.

Workaholics are alive and well and breeding at an alarming rate in the business world.

We can delude ourselves into believing that by working all hours we are the model worker and that promotion is just around the corner…

The reality is that you WILL ultimately crash and burn. That promotion or pay raise may not materialise. Even if you think you’re coping okay now and your body is resilient. You might be creating long-term damage that will manifest itself later and even shorten your life.

Some organisations rely on breeding workaholics to get the job done at whatever cost. They stand by and watch as their employees burn out, caring little about anything except for getting the job done.

Here are 5 delusions of a workaholic…

1. I’m keeping the boss happy – If your boss is allowing you to continue to work endless hours and expects you to respond to his/her emails at the weekend, evenings and while on holiday, then they care very little about you as a person. You’re just resource to get the job done. Did you teach your boss to expect this by allowing it to happen? You’ll ultimately drown in your own unrealistic expectations of yourself.

2. I’m a hero – Workaholics perceive that they are the heroes of the business. Super human beings who regularly save the day! You don’t look for ways to be more efficient because you feel like a hero: What would THEY do without you? (Seriously…They’ll find some other sucker!) You talk about how tired you are and how little sleep you get with pride. The number of hours you work becomes a game of comparison and competition instead of focusing on how productive you are!

3. I’m better than others – Your ego feels superior over others who only work regular hours. Those people who don’t stay late feel inadequate because they work reasonable hours. They feel guilty because they get to go home on time and have a life. You are unknowingly creating poor morale in those around you by your behaviour. If you’re the boss others may feel obliged to follow your role model. You grind everyone into exhaustion. This isn’t clever – it’s stupid!

4. I accomplish more – The truth is that workaholics don’t accomplish more than anyone else. They just work more – usually to the detriment of their personal life. Research has proven that constantly working longer hours and less than six hours sleep per night makes you ineffective – FACT!

  • The longer you work the more chance you’ll make mistakes because you’re tired.
  • It’s okay as a one off but it’s not sustainable. When the burnout comes (and it will) it hits you much harder, possibly with serious side effects.
  • Fixing a problem by throwing more hours at it isn’t the solution. You lose concentration the longer you work.
  • Your decision-making ability is impaired and you lose focus of what’s important.
  • Your emotions are evoked and you may say or do things out of character.
  • Things take more time to achieve

5. Successful people work long hours – Most people work longer hours occasionally. Successful people live to their values and have balance between their working and personal time. They set and maintain boundaries so these don’t blur into each other. Workaholics don’t know when to stop – They are driven by perfectionism and attention to detail.

The real hero is the person who has learned how to be productive during the day and get things done. They are the ones who are at home on an evening relaxing, living their life and not being all consumed by WORK.

Don’t let WORK be your life…





Why business meetings are painful, boring and unproductive…

By , March 28, 2012 6:27 pm

“Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. An while this certainly has a profound impact on organizational life, it also impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life.”


~ Patrick Lencioni, Author


Have you ever attended one of these?

“I could get my work done, if I didn’t have to go to so many pointless meetings!” ~ John, a coaching client. He went on to summarise that most of the meetings he attended were unfocused, lethargic and boring, but a necessity of business life.

I can remember attending many meetings in my corporate life that were frustrating and pointless. Yet I was told that had to endure them because it was part of my job.

I remember a low point once where ‘Fun’ was listed as an agenda item and we were actually forced to ‘enjoy’ a team game as part of a meeting. Have you ever pretended to have fun? – It’s counter-productive. If you ever get to this stage you need to step back and explore WHY you’re contemplating this as an agenda item in the first place. It might be because of some of the reasons below…

Why are meetings so painful and unproductive?

…Because they are! – Acceptance that part of the process of doing business involves the tedium of attending meetings. You have to go through the ritual of attending to get the job done. Many people believe that meetings are bad in every company so it’s just the way it works in business. Brace yourself and just get on with it! We’ve got used to hating them!

Lack of ownership – Participants attend with the mindset that it’s something that is done to them rather than taking RESPONSIBILITY for the role they play and how to get the best outcomes. Mediocrity and complacency sets in. You show up because you feel you have to. You’re a silent observer and the meeting becomes passionless and dull.

Little or no leadership – Ineffective meetings happen because of the approach and attitude of the people leading them. The leader models and influences the attitude and approach of those attending. Sometimes it becomes a forum to exercise the ego of the highest ranking person in the room. The focus is lost as individuals drift off-piste to satisfy their own agenda or because they’re bored! Participants aren’t sure of their role: should I be debating? Discussing? Brainstorming? Or listening?

Boring – If you had nothing else to do with your time, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spend it in a dry, tedious un-engaging meeting with some people that you might not even like that much! Sitting and listening for long periods of time to uninspiring content is monotonous. Every one moans that it’s boring – but no one does anything about it. It’s a ritual to attend every week. People are scared to give an opinion or challenge – so they sit like nodding dogs. Poor decisions are made as a consequence. Awkward situations are avoided by staying quiet, nodding where appropriate and writing your weekly shopping list!

No structure – The regular staff meeting is a classic example of this. Weekly? Monthly? Where everyone gets together for an unfocused random discussion about everything! There’s little clarity about topics and there’s no context for discussion. Individuals literally check out.

Pressure and anxiety – Most people have loads of other things to do. Attending a bad meeting only amplifies the anxiety and pain. Focus on the meeting is lost and you start thinking about how you could use this wasted time. If it’s a conference call – you’re probably multi-tasking doing your emails at the same time! You’re not used to sitting still and doing just one thing at a time so it’s easy to get distracted.

Recognise any of these?

Harvard Business School a few years ago claimed that over 50% of meetings are a waste of time…

Here’s the thing…

It’s possible to make meetings compelling, engaging, interactive and productive. It starts with changing the mindset of those attending and involves a little re-thinking on how to manage them effectively. Here are some of the benefits: Better decisions, improved morale, shorter time away from your desk, better results and increased value.

Which meeting would you rather attend?

(More tips soon on how to make meetings engaging, interesting and productive)



How Strong is Your EGO?!

By , November 8, 2011 3:41 pm

How Strong is Your Ego?

“Your ego suggests your sense of self.”

Julie Starr, author.

I coach people how to become better coaches in the corporate world. At one of my recent workshops we were discussing ego.

As a coach, one of the biggest barriers to coaching is our sense of self of our ego.

Whether you’re a coach, manager of people, best friend or a parent our ego can unconsciously get in the way when we’re trying to help others. We find that we are dealing with a constant challenge to step away from our natural instincts that we:

  • Know the answer
  • Want to solve the problem
  • Take control of the situation

Human beings naturally want to maintain our sense of being in control. We do this by:

  1. Controlling the situation
  2. Controlling another person
  3. Making sure we know what’s going to happen
  4. Being directive
  5. Manipulative

Everyone has an ego! It’s a natural function of the brain that likes to fix things – Here it is fixing our ability to be in control. Ego has a fixed opinion as to whether something is right or wrong. Our opinions can be strong drivers. Our ego creates automatic responses to situations.

If I’m your manager and you challenge a decision I’ve made, I’ll automatically look for ways to justify my decision to you and restore my control of the situation!

It is formed by our own sense of identity or how we describe ourselves. Without ego we would simply have the freedom to just ‘be’ with no limits.

The sense of who we are often relates to how we describe our roles in life. E.g.: Mother, Sister, Best Friend, Employee, and Boss.

Here’s the thing…You are much more than your roles!

Yet with roles we create boundaries or limitations to our sense of self. These roles aren’t real, but they are words to help us organize what we need to do in our life and how we interact together.

If you are a team leader you might be apprehensive and uncomfortable talking in a meeting with a group of senior managers. You’re unconsciously operating from your sense of self based on your own perception of the personal image of being in the role that you’re currently in. You create a limiting belief that you are not as worthy as those other important senior managers.  This can create obstacles and limit your success.

Our self-image affects our thinking, feeling, action and results. It can affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour during a conversation.

Effective people can relax their sense of roles and leave their egos outside the door. Julie Starr best describes this by saying:

“Relate to someone else’s world, by relaxing your grip on yours.”

Relaxing this grip helps you to create effective conversations. You’re not always expressing your opinions.  You can remain neutral, stop reacting from your own assumptions and listen to the other person’s reality of their world.

  • This helps you to maintain rapport and integrity.
  • You are able to listen to what the person is saying without judging them or jumping in to defend.
  • You get to see beyond what the person is describing and this allows you to tune into their WHY.
  • You can remain focused and ask them about their opinions, help them to explore the situation and open up new perspectives to view it objectively.
  • You stay focused and on purpose.

How Strong is My Ego?

Try this quick test to check in on your ego.

Answer True or False to the following statements:

Statement True/False
I can’t take direct criticism very well
I won’t be proved wrong in a situation
It’s very rare that something will embarrass me
I find it hard to laugh at myself
I find it hard to accept people with different views to myself
I’m conscious about what other people think of me
I’m easily stressed
I’m not good at listening to other people’s ideas or suggestions
I value the importance of status and its power
I give less time to people of a lower grade/perceived value to me
I don’t relax easily and can get uptight about things
I have strong opinions about things
People annoy me if they don’t take the good advice I’ve given them
I’m concerned about what other people say about me
I don’t like it if I don’t get my way
Believe I am right and people should listen to me
I talk more than I listen

Answering true to most of these questions indicates that you have a strong ego.

How does YOUR ego show up and influence your thinking, feeling, action and results?

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