change in the workplace

The Courage to Stop


By Maikel Bailey – ILEC Certified Executive Coach

There are a lot of expectations put on the shoulders of leaders. The pressure is always on to keep pressing ahead, improving processes, connecting, and motivating people to meet or exceed expectations on every front of their responsibilities.

In a world that calls for smart, quick, and on-target responses, the momentum can be a 24/7 experience of go, go, go! That can be tough to maintain because it can become unrealistic and unsustainable.

Ever talk to someone in a big rock n roll band that toured? Did you ever have the opportunity to ask them why so many players in the bands get addicted to drugs, alcohol, and sex? There is a reason why that industry is riddled with dead or addicted people. And here’s the reason: it is a new city almost every night or other night when on the road. You have to be up for every show. Up and killing it! It’s show biz, you know, and the crowd is paying good money for over-the-top good times.

There are many things wrong with that world and the way it runs. I am not going to debate it. I want to point out one thing. It is the human need (and I mean need) to have the time to slow down, stop automatically reacting, and genuinely respond. For leaders, that means reflecting and seriously considering what is going on with your company and the people who work for you. You must do that. Otherwise, you become a reaction machine. Reaction becomes your Comfort Zone. In Comfort Zones, there is no learning, only entropy – going downhill.

Leaders are supposed to be the ones who are the examples of courage and authenticity. Courage and real. But you can’t be courageous and real if you are a reactive machine caught in a comfort zone of entropy doing all you can just to survive as you are not. (“It could be heaven, or it could be hell.” ~ Hotel California)

So, what’s the answer?

The courage to stop. For instance:

  • Stop reactively saying yes.
  • Stop reactively saying no.
  • Stop reactively saying you know when you don’t.
  • Stop reactively saying you will when you know you won’t.
  • Stop reactively saying you’re okay when you are not.
  • Stop reactively lying and hiding when you know it is not working for you or anyone else.

Courage is hard. Real is hard. Too many leaders today appear to be working overtime to get their Ph.D. in Imposter Syndrome, clueless about their lack of self-awareness or the fact that the pose is not working.

The only thing harder than busting your own chops for being a phony is not owning up, and the world comes crashing down around you too late. Now, that’s real, and that’s hard.

One of my clients came that close to losing it all. But he caught himself. He pulled out of his drug-dazed, sex-crazed lifestyle and got real. He knew he needed guidance and accountability, so he reached out to me. Instead of getting his chops busted, he busted his tail to pull out of the fatal dive. He did it. He was honest, worked hard, and got the help he required. Result, he got himself together. He’s flying high, but it’s a natural high of success, not self-deception.

The courage to respond with real yes, no, and I don’t know, and I will or won’t is the only way it works short-term or long-term. It’s your choice – heaven or hell.

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