Show up ready for battle

My daughter flew over the handlebars a dozen times and got banged up pretty good. I had taken her to a gentle grassy hill just like it said in the magazine article about teaching your kid to ride a bike. But, it only works if your kid can reach the ground while sitting on the seat. Oops! Lucky for me, she’s focused and ignores pain. She was still eager to try something new and learned in a heartbeat on a basketball court. That’s how success is.

great leaders are madeSuccess demands pain and suffering. Consider Steve Jobs. Easy to forget his failures now, but he was devastated when he was fired from his position as CEO in 1985. He also had many product failures which you can be sure he took personally.

Success causes mental and physical pain for your boss. Building a business is not a 9-to-5 job – it’s 10 to 12 hours a day and there are times you don’t sleep when you want to or need to. It’s the nature of managing people and getting things done in competition. It’s a little like war (or raising kids) – there is always a crisis. There is always noise, there is always pain and there is always fear. You don’t want to add to your boss’s pain.

How you handle crisis matters. It matters to your boss and your career. If your boss looks calm and collected to you, it’s for a reason. Negative emotions are costly – they drain energy needed for thinking clearly and performing at a high level. Negative emotions undermine performance and are contagious too. Chronic negative emotions cause illness. So choose – you can be the one your boss wants to take into battle, or the negative, panicky, hysterical one.

headed for burnout?If you want to be combat-ready for your boss, your family or your friends, learn to manage your energy. Below, I show how. I’m not speculating about these things. These are things I’ve actually done to recover from a chronic illness that brought me to my knees (that’s code for “I wanted to die”). Actually, I didn’t really want my life to be over, I just wanted the pain to go away badly enough that I thought through every option for stopping it.

These are the things that eventually restored me and will charge you up, too. I know they work:

Exercise – There are a billion studies showing that exercise improves your emotional, mental and physical health. You could spend years reading them or just start exercising 20 minutes or more a day. Make sure you’re breathing hard for at least 10 minutes. If you’re outside in a beautiful setting, it works even better.

no maternity leave?Recovery – You need a proportional recovery for every effort. You won’t notice this if you are young and healthy enough, and that’s why we send 18-year-olds off to war. Eventually, with enough age and stress in your life, you’ll find this like the law of gravity.

To keep your balance, you need to plan and formalize your recoveries. Do whatever it takes to bring yourself back to a full charge. When your battery gets drained, that might mean walking around the block, a 10 minute nap, a half hour massage, 5 minutes of meditation, a day off, or going to bed early for three days in a row. Whatever it takes for you.

Enjoyment – You’ve got to have fun and joy in your life to balance the crap. Joy is powerful. Being silly with my kids does the trick for me. I also garden and fly radio controlled gliders. Watching TV doesn’t count unless it’s something short that can make you cry with laughter like a good episode of the Three Stooges (try Men in Black).

Positive rituals – your ability to focus on new things and exercise discipline consciously is more limited than you think. Every bit of self-control you exercise in a day draws on a limited reserve of energy.  When you feel overwhelmed, it’s because your tank is nearing empty. One way to stretch your energy farther is to build rituals into your day. A ritual or routine allows you to run on autopilot for a while, conserving energy for other uses.

attitude of gratitudeEven better, routines can replenish energy if they are recovery rituals. A few examples on the personal side: I wake up in the morning and say a prayer. Not so religious, just a reminder of how I want to live my life and what I’m grateful for. I try to walk or hike every afternoon for 20-30 minutes. My walk starts with another “gratitude prayer” and then I stretch for 15 minutes. This is dynamite for me.

Sleep – Sleep is sacred. Get seven or eight hours of sleep. Go to bed at 10 o’clock.  If you have a sleep debt, take a nap during the day (if it doesn’t interfere with your sleep at night). If you are a light sleeper, make sure you sleep in total darkness (use blackout shades), no telephones or TVs in the bedroom, and use ear plugs if necessary.

Go to bed at the same time every night after reading a book for 10 or 15 minutes (no electronic devices). If you have insomnia, use Sleep Restriction Therapy – nothing else works as well. If your sleep quality is poor, find out if you have sleep apnea.

Anxiety and fear – Embrace them. Your fear has the power to paralyze you and it will win if you fight it. Don’t. Often, there is some important message behind your anxiety you need to hear. Talk to yourself. Say, “I feel anxious and that’s alright. I’m basically okay. I have what I need and I can handle this. What am I afraid of specifically?” Write your fears down on paper and consider them carefully.

Look at the worst-case scenario. Can you survive that? Then write down some possible solutions.  I don’t know exactly why this works. Maybe spelling out your fears puts a clear border around them. With no border, they ooze around and can grow like weeds. Get them out of your head and into words and they’ll shrink down and sometimes blow away altogether.

Energy drains – Find work you enjoy with a team that energizes you. Don’t enjoy the work? Ask for different responsibilities. Crappy boss? Leave (read What Should I Do with My Life?). I had a crappy boss once and also developed a strong stomach pain that lasted until I got away from that crappy person.

A coworker said “just do what I do – every morning I get in the shower and pour a gallon of Vaseline on myself so her crap will just slide off me.” I couldn’t do it. If you can’t get away from the crappy people around you, the next best thing is to refuse to engage with them, and refuse completely.

Food – What you eat has a big impact on your energy level and mood. Anything you eat that causes your sugar level to spike also causes it to crater afterwards. This causes your adrenal glands to pump out cortisol which makes you hungry and now you are on a roller coaster leaving you drained at the end of the day. To get off the roller coaster, you need to make dramatic changes and unlearn most of what the media says about nutrition.

change your diet to improve your energyI’ve left this for last, because it’s too difficult if you haven’t experienced a health crisis. But it works and will be here when you’re ready for it: No caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar or sugar equivalents and no processed food. Sugar equivalents are things like fruit, juice, bread, rice, pasta. Those are all foods that cause your sugar to spike.

On the plus side, healthy fats found in whole foods like eggs, cheese, butter, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, olive and coconut oil etc. are delicious and will keep you feeling satisfied. Everything else you eat should be a vegetable. All you need to know is here.

One last thing – if you follow this diet, there are only two critical vitamins you need to learn about: vitamin C & vitamin D.  I take a little over a gram of vitamin C every day and get 50 g by IV a couple times a year. When I was very ill, I would get vitamin C by IV up to twice a week. Next to a good night of sleep, nothing (that’s healthy) has the power to energize like vitamin C.

others will notice your improved energyNobody can do everything on this list all the time. I can’t. But do whatever you can manage and people around you will notice your increasing calm and strength. Energy is the final frontier. Go boldly.

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  • Emma

    I think recovery is the biggest component of this. I work with children every day and they sure do take a lot of energy! I am constantly on my feet, trying to think ahead of them, and worrying about what they might do next. This takes a toll on my mind and body every single day and by the time Friday rolls around my coworkers and I are talking about how much we need a break. I take the weekend to recover as much as I can so I can come back in on Monday morning fresh and ready to start the whole process over again!

  • Amber Williams

    this sounds similar to my current situation. going to school full time and trying to work a third shift job from 930pm-630am and then having to wake up and go to my morning classes. I was barely getting any time for sleep or even eating. my sleep patterns were all messed up I just couldn’t take all the stress from classes to working that night shift job. So when I reached my wits-end I stopped working the night shift job everyday and lowered it to every other day to where I didn’t have early morning classes the next day, I was able to get enough sleep and try to focus more on my studies instead of means to make money. but overall I think I’ve made the right choice.

  • matthew lamartina

    Exercise, nutrition, and rest are essential if you want to stay healthy, obviously. But did you know that being healthy can raise your confidence, and helps ward off depression.

  • Rebeca Gurrola

    Great article! It’s awesome to know that you’re not the only one dealing with all of these things on a daily basis. Last summer I was a part of a research program at the university that I am currently attending. It was a huge eye-opening experience for what I will face when I enter a Ph.D. program, which was the point. During this last summer I was spending my entire days in the library working on my research and leaving when it was night time. I obviously was not eating right, nor was I balancing enjoyment, exercise, and academics. I know this post is about jobs and the working experience, but I’m a full time student only focusing on school. Toward the end of that summer I had learned how to make time for what was important. I finished a really intense work out that I would do 6 days of the week, I would have time to be with my family and take my dogs to the park, and I began to take healthier lunch options with me for my long days at the library.

    One of the classes that I took as a part of the research program was basically trying to provide all of the details that nobody discloses about graduate school. One of the things that the professor emphasized most was the importance of taking care of ourselves. As students, many of us seek perfection the first time around, but most of us also know that it is almost impossible. I’ve learned as a result of this experience that I must take care of my body by watching my diet and keeping exercise as a priority and by balancing out all the things and people that are important to me. Doing these things right now as a student will definitely help me later on when I begin my graduate program and when I begin working.

  • Alisa Traver

    Working two jobs to pay for school, and going to school for 17 units takes a toll out on my energy. This article is right by saying the food you eat and your daily activity needs to be apart of your daily life. Staying positive and just knowing that there is a life fulling goal that you are reaching for makes it all that much attainable.

  • Sung Cho

    Being a College student, it is a fairly challenging thing to manage your time and energy when you are constantly loaded with work and community service to keep up with. Most of the times you are forced to sacrifice either the quality of work you produce or sleep. Some say SCAD stands for “sleep comes after death” which is partially true. Regardless, once I regulated my sleep cycle incorporated with daily workout and nutritious foods, I’ve proven to myself that it’s all about using your energy efficiently. As long as I keep up with the lifestyle I have now, I can see myself being efficient in the long run through remaining years in college.

  • Ashley Blair

    I really want to run my own vet clinic and practice one day and am currently going to college. The stress is quite high now and I know it will be equally or higher than it is now when I become a large animal vet. This can help me manage it now, and if I can manage it now, it’ll help when I get to that position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/loretta.young.7798 Loretta Young

    This is a very good article that I feel is very beneficial in all areas of life. Sleep and exercise is very important and enables us to stay healthy, stress free, and emotionally stable.

  • msgrumpy

    I noticed that when I came home from work that I would be very grumpy and would get agitated by the drop of a hat. I noticed that the night before I was not getting eight hours of sleep we are suppose to get. This article is confirmation of what I need to do. Also because of the tension on the job I try to take five minutes to myself when I get home with no interuptions. Its helping out a lot.

  • Kuglercr

    This article is amazing and completely relatable for so many people out in the world right now. We all feel tired, overworked, and ready to just lay down and give up. We are all giving in to stress when we don’t need to or have to. Simple lifestyle solutions can be the answer to so many issues in a person’s life.
    Personally this article is really hitting home because of personal issues coupled with a hectic job and college life. Exercise and diet can be just the first step to creating more energy and positive emotions to make life just that much easier. Thinking positive and journaling day to day feelings can also be a slight help as well.
    Go into battle positive and healthy mentally and physically, and nothing can stop you or even trip you up on your path to greatness. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need help and a lifestyle change. Laughter and positive thinking are your best friend, and soon your coworkers and boss will be too.

  • Juanita Dean-Bates

    Working for a non-profit with few employees at times leads you to feel overworked and overwhelmed. However, I manage because I am constantly thinking of the people we serve. Non-Profit work is not for the faint at heart. You are in the trenches and there does not seem to be a tangible reward. The reward is when someone later comes and informs you of the great work you are doing.
    To keep my energy up, I have changed my diet, work out a little more and keep focus of the people I am serving. This is what allows me to work long hours in the office, work at home, and at times go to the office on the weekends. Serving the community does not just end at 5:00 p.m. Emails that come to your phone, or when you’re working on a paper for school work is always a constant thought. As it is right now.
    Your boss must know they can depend on you regardless of the time of day. That may seem a bit much, but the pay (not always monetary) at the end of the day is the best for me. Alcolades will come, raises will come; however, the best reward is how you feel upon the completion of a project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/corey.tamiggisimpson Corey Lea Tamiggi-Simpson

    I was always tired half way through my day, no matter what I did it didn’t seem to work. But then I started eating better, trying to exercise, and sleeping a regular schedule and my energy level got better. I still need to work on these things, chocolate is always calling me in its many forms, but I am trying to do better so my work performance gets better.

  • summer

    Working is hard work weather it be mentally or physically you should always go in at it with the expectations to work hard and that way if you have an easy day it will be a treat especially if you were ready for a hard one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brittany.schumacher.5 Brittany Schumacher

    I enjoyed this article. I’m working with a boss who is essentially the opposite of everything this article states. He has a good heart, he just struggles with leadership concepts. He’s retiring in a year or so and the company wants to promote me to his job. This article has reinforced the concepts I’m learning at University of Phoenix and assured me that my actions are in the right direction.

  • Luz E. Lopez

    I enjoy this article, because I love to feel positive and motivated every day. To keep myself positive, First I thank God for all the blessings that I have, and for the opportunity to live another day. Then I read a new motivational quote and that elevated my ego for the rest of the day. Also smiling, smiling help me feel happy and made someone else happy. Positive actitude is what we really need to do our best in every aspect of life. After reading a book “mujer sin limites” (woman without limits) from Maria Marin, I learn that everything can be achieve, you just need a positive actitude in life, and even in the worse cases you can keep calm and feel that something better is coming in the way.

  • Susie Kelly

    I was constantly running low on energy day after day after only being at work for a few hours. I decided that a life change was in order, so I started eating healthier, working out and doing yoga on a regular basis and instantly noticed that I had more energy through out the day and actually looked forward to going to work everyday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mer904 Merrilee Smith Biggers

    What a wonderful article. It is so true about negative people. Negativity has a negative effect. If you can not ignore it, get away from it. Misery likes company and it will stick to you like nothing else. Do not join into the negativity is the best thing ever. Thanks so much for a great article.

  • Corinne Counsell

    I’ve learned to treat every day at work as a new challenge. A challenge to put my best foot forward and a challenge to have the kids I work with do the same. When working with kids, it is vital to express enthusiasm and to not simply go through the motions. The kids can sense whether you are happy, excited, mad, or sad, and your own attitude will almost always affect theirs. Showing up ready for battle means that you are willing to give it your all to not only fulfill, but also go beyond your duties as an employee. 

  • Velia Favela

    I’m a teacher at one of the Head Starts and my work life and personal life have been a battle from the start. It was easy as a child to bypass any sort of responsibilities thanks to my parents, but once I hit my senior year of high school everything changed; my first born son. Due to the fact that I was now a pregnant teenager and in need of money to support a baby that I was not going to willingly relinquish I knew that there was only one way out of it and that was with a job.

    I applied and got the first job I ever applied for at the age of eighteen and have been working nonstop since then. Thirteen years ago I applied for the position I have now and trust me that working with children is easier than working with some of the adults there. The struggle is always there for me and everything that’s said here has literally been a part of my life since the beginning. I’m glad someone finally wrote down my life’s journey.

  • Bofuentes

    This “show up reday for battle” is very interesting because we can apply it to pretty much any situtaion, especially as employees and students. This section talks about thing that we might already know but it’s always good to be reminded that we need to keep a balance in everything we do, including recovery after effort, sleep, dealing with emotions; basically taking care of ourselves in order to  perform better.

  • Jamonroe38

    One of my major learning experiences involves dealing with staff related issues.  I am supervisor of 13 individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses.  The overall idea of the ‘work program’ is to offer viable learning and growing opportunities to each of the employees.  The structure of the program is a paradox of sort.  On one hand, we are to treat each of the employees like a ‘normal’ employee.  On the other hand, there are people put in place to serve as liaisons and spokespersons for the employees. There are many more obstacles to deal with before termination or replacement.  Does this assist the employee with understanding what is expected in a ‘real-life’ work experience. I am not sure.  But, one thing for sure, patience is definitely the guiding force. 

    In past supervisory postions, stated policy addressed things that were considered immediate terminations and write-ups.  These things were not tolerated and would receive immediate consequence.  In my present position, employees are given more verbal warnings and staffings (case managers, support members, supervisor, and employee meet) to address the issues and determine if the issue is work-related or medically constricting. 

    Overall, I have learned that there are things that I can change and things that I cannot.  I have learned not only to determine the difference, but to not allow those things that I can’t change to affect me.  I have learned that it is possible to say whatever needs to be said, while being considerate, thoughtful, and respectful.  Lastly, the greatest learning moment for me is when I am able to accept my mistakes and know that I am still learning – as all in the world are.  Thanks

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In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.

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