Organisations and executives face escalating disruption and complexity. Disruption is synonymous of disturbance, upset, and disorder. Philosopher Ken Wilber coined the term “aperspectival madness” to signify the cognitive imbroglio, confusion, and paralysis the avalanche of information has created in the ability of leaders to solve the wicked problems collectively created.
The prevalence of self-reliance as a driving leadership paradigm averts having the conversation around personal inner disturbance. Notably, we hear about what is going on inside leaders through leadership literature that inform that acute stress, clogged minds, clouded judgement, emotional shutdown, gut dysbiosis, or weakened nervous systems are on the ise. Pope Francis signified leadership indisposition. The digital world makes it is easier to fan prejudices, gossip, and opinion in a that converses no more.
Despite the intense market volatility, leadership ambiguity, market uncertainty, and complex dynamics there is a place inside of us that is inmutable to outer changes no matter how extraordinary those external changes are.
WHY IS ADDRESSING TIREDNESS SO DIFFICULT?
The initial common response to the rise of complexity and ambiguity is to push harder and run faster. The pervasive mantra of success: stronger, faster, and bigger has fallen hard as a curse on the brilliant and capable (Ciaramicoli, 2009) dragging them into a trance of hyperactivity fuelled by increased pressure.
I suspect, the frenzied effort to preserve competitiveness despite adverse conditions, makes leaders shoulder more responsibility than what they can physically and psychologically handle. Leadership composure is dwindling to the point that fatigued leaders see kindness, compassion, and caring as instigators of complacency. It would be not too wrong to affirm that the working environment is full of adrenaline, dopamine, and cortisol, reliable indicators of a fight-flight culture. In this context, hiding to the employer any sign of tiredness brings along a fugacious sense of employment safety.
Resting is no longer a natural biological cycle but an earned right. Furthermore, the expectation to follow the demands of a 24/7 lifestyle of overconnectivity, social networking, and editing, makes resting a privilege reserved to an elite.
RESTORING ENERGY IS A STRATEGIC PRIORITY
The alarming level of disengagement in organisations as reported by Gallup in 2013 is just one indication that people are opting out of the collective madness. Companies are searching for new conversations that awake collective intelligence to bring the madness of capitalism empty of ethos to an end. A capitalism empty of ethos might have helped maximize shareholder value, but it has undoubtedly delivered a global system malfunction. Physiological depletion, psychological exhaustion, emotional confusion, and spiritual dissatisfaction are rampant in teams. Rumination in regret and anxiety (Roger & Petrie, 2017) has replaced restorative practices like silence, stillness, and breathing.
Fatigue is a sign of the “decompensation of the body” (Lam & Lam, 2012, p.28). We have all experienced that when our body is low in energy, it forces us to stop and rest. In other words, a body low on fuel “slows down all non-essential functions in order to preserve its remaining fuel” (italics in original, Lam & Lam, 2012, p.15). Ignoring the signs of fatigue, some individuals count on the promise of robotisation to alleviate daily biological tiredness while others seem to rely on the latest medical “miracle” drug to dilute the consequences of sustained hyperactivity. Nurturing well-being in high-performance focused organisations appears a monumental task.
ORGANIZATIONS DO NOT CHANGE, PEOPLE DO
A system to sustain performance needs to be negentropic. To ignore the current toxic environments predominant in corporations (Frost, 2003) is denying the truth that organisations do not change, people do.
One way to rapidly regain energy is by synchronising the body-mind connection. The HeartMath Institute has since 1991 offered convincing scientific proof on the power of positive emotions (i.e., appreciation, gratitude, caring, and compassion) combined with rhythmic breathing has in restoring internal biological system synchronisation. A balanced psychophysiological system helps maximise cognitive leadership functions like decision-making, learning agility, and perception (McCraty, Atkinson, & Tomasino, 2001) crucial to thriving in disruptive scenarios.
Interestingly, pressure and stress results in shallow and frequent breathing. This kind of breath reflects a fight-flight attitude that -if sustained over time- fatigues the nervous system and triggers the emotional reactivity and lack of leadership composure that employees report uninspiring. Fortunately, research on team performance is starting to shed light on the importance of developing personal psychophysiological balancing breathing in creating team flow and performance (Kotler & Wheal, 2017).
So no matter how difficult it might seem to do, I encourage you to pause once a day to recharge energy. Perhaps you want to establish an intention to explore what brings energy back into your psychobiological system. Consider the transformative power of a few minutes of mindful silence and relaxed stillness. It could merely be strolling around the building after lunch consciously breathing that will do the magic for you. Silence, stillness and proper breathing combined reverses fatigue in just a few minutes!
Taking the first step is taking care of yourself. Find what brings joy to you. A stroll in nature, listening to music, walking your pet, touching your heart and elicit positive emotions are inexpensive practices that over time deliver a renewed state of being. So take the first step no matter how small it might seem to you. Do what works for you. Not only you will benefit, so will your team.
Ciaramicoli, A. (2009). The Curse of the Capable: The Hidden Challenge to a Balanced, Healthy, High-Achieving Life. Garden City, NY: MBO Productions, An imprint of Morgan James Publishing
Frost, P. (2003). Toxic emotions at work: How compassionate managers handle pain and conflict. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Haas, M. (2016). Bouncing Forward: Transforming Bad Breaks into Breakthroughs. New York: NY. Atria/Enliven Books. Simon & Schuster Publishers.
Kotler, S., & Wheal, J. (2017) Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. New York: NY. Harper Collins Publishers.
Lam, M., & Lam, D. (2012). Psychology of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome: How the Body and Mind Connection Affects your Recovery. Loma Linda, CA: Adrenal Institute Press.
McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., & Tomasino, D. (2001). Science of the Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance. HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath® Publication No.01-001,16-20.
Roger, D., & Petrie, N. (2017) Work Without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.
 of or characterized by a reduction in entropy (and corresponding increase in order). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-ab&ei=mF11W_iPGNCJlwTnlobACQ&q=negentropic&oq=negetropic&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i13k1l3j0i13i30k1l7.73685.77016.0.799188.8.131.52.0.0.0.166.1082.0j9.9.0..2..0…1.1.64.psy-ab..1.9.1072…0j0i67k1j0i10k1.0.h7hoUd7p_sE