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Success & Stress – Balancing the Scales of Achievement

In today's fast-paced world, success is often measured by one's ability to achieve goals, climb the corporate ladder, and accumulate accolades. It's a pursuit that drives many of us. But what can often lurk beneath the surface is chronic stress and, at times, unhappiness.

In our experience working in the field of people development, we've observed that even outwardly successful people can find themselves restless and overwhelmed by the demands of life and their never-ending to-do lists.

Meet Leo, a high-achieving executive. On the outside, he had it all – frequent business travels, a sough-after title and the admiration of his peers. However, beneath his charisma and polished exterior, Leo was struggling with a complex juggling act. The weight of each responsibility, each additional achievement, created a surge of anxiety and stress - impacting not only his productivity but also his quality of life. His pursuit of success had unintentionally led him towards burnout.

Unfortunately, for leaders like Leo, in the relentless pursuit of success, they burn out their greatest assets: themselves. Consequently, this can have a ripple effect on those around them, including employees who may be inadvertently driven into the ground creating a culture of stress.

The Definition of Success: Is It Synonymous with Happiness?

As the topic of stress and burnout gains prominence in the workplace, more people are questioning the traditional definition of success. It raises a fundamental question: shouldn’t the essence of hard work, hustling, and accomplishments ultimately lead to happiness? Success should ideally lead to a sense of fulfillment, doesn’t it?

Success, in reality, is a dynamic concept that evolves as we progress through different stages of life. What it means to us today might be entirely different in five years. Nevertheless, the innate drive to strive exists within us. While this is no doubt a positive force, we want to shed light on another crucial aspect: the importance of being mindful and intentional about HOW we pursue our goals.

The Price We Pay

While ambition and hard work are commendable traits, achieving success through a constant rush, excessive effort, and neglecting self-care can come at a high cost: stress and burnout.

Stress, to a certain extent, is a motivator, propelling us to take action and fueling us. Many of us even find that we're most productive when we're under pressure. However, ongoing, unmanaged stress is the nemesis of success. Research indicates that chronic stress can become a major obstacle, hindering our ability to perform at our fullest potential. For meaningful and lasting success, it's important that achievement not come at the cost of our wellbeing. Chronic stress and burnout can undermine even the most impressive accomplishments.

Shifting Our Approach

One of the key issues with stress is that most of us aren't attuned to its gradual build-up until we reach a breaking point. Operating under constant stress and pressure has become the norm, leaving us without a benchmark to recognise when we've gone beyond our optimum or crossed the line.

What’s fundamental in managing stress is adopting a proactive and preemptive approach. This requires a shift from reactive stress management. We must be deliberate in equipping ourselves with the ability to better navigate stress – even if we believe it to be small or tell ourselves “It’s not a big deal at this moment” or that we can “push past it”.

Think of it like a car you’re driving, it’s so much better to fuel up before your tank runs empty.

Start With Upskilling

What does this look like from a practical perspective? Refining your skills is crucial when it comes to areas such as boundary setting, prioritisation, and effective decision making. We encourage you to apply different methodologies and strategies that can enhance your effectiveness.

For a deeper dive into these vital skills, keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs or reach out to us to pave your path to success and well-being.


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