An Executive Coach and Registered Mental Health Nurse who is passionate about delivering excellence and supporting others to think differently about the way they think, act and behave in order for them to have a more fulfilling and successful life. To help successful people experience more success in their lives.
I have been meaning to write this blog for some time now, however, my life has been a little hectic since taking up my MSc in Occupational Psychology last year (oh to be a student again), Thrive in the City, as well as designing and planning for the launch of The Performance Club this summer.
However, fundamentally I keep coming up against some of the points I'm about to raise, so I thought that now was the right time. I'm going to address what I believe, given my experience and observations over the last 15 years in the NHS and the last 5 in the corporate world to be some significant issues. I make these points as a highly experienced mental health practitioner, coach and collaborator who has experienced and had many a discussion with others, including clients, academics and industry experts.
So, let's take a deep dive....
Lack of adaptive helping strategies
In the clinical world, we would call these coping strategies, however, I'm forever been corrected that I must use more 'business-like' descriptions so here we have it. What I mean by this is that we have become less efficient at dealing with life events which feel uncomfortable to us.
Increase in emotional instability
We are becoming less able to tolerate our emotions, this includes becoming more reactive and demanding about how the world should be, and the way in which others treat us. As a consequence, when something or someone does something to us which we feel is not right, we tend to awfulise this event. We are becoming less rational, less flexible and less emotionally resilient. Particularly, this is happening significantly to our younger generation who are struggling with these feelings of being out of control (feeding into their ability to cope and tolerate such feelings). Unfortunately, there is no Law in any land that says we can have everything we want, otherwise, I'd be sipping on my mojito in the Bahamas whilst I type this!
Increase in the fear of failure
We are now living in a society whereby we constantly fear being judged. It is now very easy to compare ourselves and our lives to others, with whom we 'assume' are living an easier and happier life (when often this is not the case). What is more truthful, is the beautiful are often the most unconfident and insecure and the most intelligent and successful are often the most fearful of failure. It is my opinion, that we are approaching the 'era of the perfectionist' and with that comes high expectations of self and others and a decrease in overall self-efficacy which can lead to anxiety and depression.
Increase in demands and low frustration tolerance
I've spoken about this one before (Digital & Loyalty) but we are becoming a demanding bunch. We are insisting things go our way, and if it doesn't then it is awful and we cannot deal with it.
For example..... I want and insist that I get that job, if I don't get that job it would be awful and I couldn't handle it, and it will just prove I'm not good enough and I will never get a job (simple example, but you get the idea).
On top of this, consumer behaviour is playing with our heads and we are developing neuropathways that tell us that we can have it all and if we don't get this wonderful experience in which we desire, then we are perfectly within our rights to think that's damn awful, and we should go elsewhere until someone does value us (therefore, treating us the way we expect - high expectations - perfectionism).
Lack of connection - preferring to work autonomously and in isolation
This also links to our need to control. When we work on our own, we can keep control over the outcome and we won't feel uncomfortable trusting another individual. Lack of trust in Organisations and in our daily lives only compounds this lack of connection, as does the utilisation of technology (see below). This can create loneliness and an inner emptiness.
Increase in the use of social technology, including 24/7 access
Technology is being designed by behavioural scientists/developers who believe it or not want to influence our brains. Social media is just one of the ways we gain instant gratification which introduces short bursts of dopamine (happy hormone #1) to the brain. This spike of dopamine provides us with short-term happiness, however, leaves us feeling empty and less satisfied in the long run. What we need to know is that dopamine is addictive, so as a consequence we are turning into happiness junkies chasing that next dopamine hit - common examples include the constant need to have new experiences, drugs and alcohol, sex, shopping and of course keeping up appearances on our Instagram feed! So, next time your toddler or teenager screams because you've removed the iPad or mobile phone from them - just remember that it is like removing a drug from a drug addict (hard hitting I know - sorry).
Social media is also helping us to disconnect from the world and each other. Often when we are facing troubles, we will turn to a device rather than a friend. This way of communicating is troublesome and further leads to isolation. I encourage you to remember we are social animals - when we do things for others it releases oxytocin (the love drug), yet we are moving further away from social bonding, interacting and connecting.
Next, I want to introduce our other happiness neurotransmitter - serotonin (happy hormone #2) which is responsible for our wellbeing. It is the chemical that allows us to be content and happy and it also helps us to keep our moods under control (helps with sleep, anxiety and relieving depression). It is very important to note the relationship between dopamine and serotonin - you see, to have a balanced happy life both have to make up a total of 100. It is helpful to see this as two glasses of water, with each glass making up half - 50 units each. However, because there are only 100 units in total, in order to increase one, we need to 'borrow' from another i.e. to increase the amount of water in the dopamine glass, we have to take some from the serotonin water glass and vice-versa. When we live a healthy balanced life, both of these glasses should sit at around 50 units each (40 / 60 is still pretty good). But the more imbalanced these glasses become, 30/70 or worse, the more likely this translates to an imbalance in our lives and is a recipe for addiction. A common medication of course for treating depression is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), which works to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.
To conclude, the more we are turning towards short-term happiness and instant gratification, the more dopamine dominant we become. We are no longer content and happy, and instead of being proud of our achievements, we constantly think about what we haven't achieved instead (this might sound familiar to those bringing up young children who often feel this way).
So what do we need to do? Below I have included some basic tips:
TALK - get off the device, chat, gossip, call, hug...Listen - learn to ACTIVELY LISTEN (google has lots of info on this technique or if you are an organisation, you could get me in to tell you all about it)Care about one another - kindness and 'community' spirit spreads and encourages trust. These acts release OXYTOCIN (yes you can create this in teams and workplaces) the love drug, however, I am not advocating workplace affairs!Decreases the use of the technology (for those parents out there - limit the use of these devices and educate your children as so as they are able to understand) - reduce DOPAMINEBecome SELF AWARE - learn more about what I have said today and if you want to know more - just ask!Be COMPASSIONATE & ACCEPTING of yourself and others.
Mental health is everyone's business, and if we don't take care of ourselves and others we can develop mental ill health. It is not enough to learn about symptoms and hear stories we need to be more in control of our own behaviours which are not healthy so we can take action.
I have been working on an executive development programme for enhancing your performance in all these areas and more. If you would like to be part of the pilot programme, please express your interest by getting in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org stating why you would be a good candidate.
Stacy is the Founder of The Performance Club, Co-Founder of Thrive in the City and Founder of Impact Coaching. She is a highly experienced Performance Coach, collaborator and an award-winning Mental Health Practitioner.
You can contact Stacy for more information at email@example.com
Thousands of London City workers and residents come together to ‘Thrive In The City’
More than one thousand workers across the city of London attended more than 80 events on Monday 27 November to celebrate mental wellbeing, organised by Thrive in the City, a collaboration of three individuals with a shared insight for creating a safe, physical space to support mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I was delighted to support Thrive in the City and to see hundreds of employees taking part in events across Canary Wharf and the City of London. It is incredibly important that employers support their workers’ mental wellbeing – the more we talk about mental health, the more we reduce the stigma around it, which so often prevents people from speaking out.”
Thrive In The City events were held at 18 different locations across the City of London and Canary Wharf including at AIG, Thomson Reuters, Legal & General, KPMG, Team London Bridge, Herbert Smith Freehills, Chubb, Shoe Lane Library as well as City Hall where speakers, therapists and Thrive London representatives were available to meet City workers and residents on a 1:1 basis.
The Bank of England opening statement for its panel discussion was: “It’s a collective responsibility to look out for each other at work – sometimes simply ‘cracking on’ isn’t the answer.”
Adam Spreadbury, Co-Chair of the Bank of England Mental Health Network, hailed the event: “The Bank of England is pleased to have hosted this event as part of Thrive in the City 2017. Our event focused on how line managers can help to support mental wellbeing in the workplace.
“In my own experience, having a supportive manager made all the difference when I experienced a mental health issue in 2009. That’s why I was proud to share my story with other organisations around the City in a bid to raise awareness about mental health and the important role line managers, and each of us, can play in helping to provide support to our colleagues when they need it.”
Louise Aston, from BITC (Business In The City), said: “Asking how people are, really meaning it and taking time to listen makes a real difference to our workplace wellbeing – a whole approach to mental wellbeing is needed.”
Julie Humphreys, Head of D&I AIG Europe, said: “We were very excited to support Thrive In The City at AIG. During 2017, we really began our work around mental health awareness in earnest, and we plan to build on this in 2018 – Thrive In The City was impeccable timing.”
Joyce Nash, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The City of London Corporation and its award-winning Business Healthy Programme were delighted to support Thrive in the City 2017. Mental health and wellbeing of the City’s 9,000 residents and 470,000-strong workforce is a priority for the City Corporation and is key to ensuring the Square Mile continues to be a fantastic place for people to work, live and visit.
“Thrive In The City brought together the business community, residents and workers to promote good mental health through its excellent and wide ranging programme of events. This ties in with our ongoing mental health campaign, Release the Pressure, encouraging those who are experiencing poor mental health to seek assistance.
“We continue to work with partners to help end the stigma about mental health, particularly in the workplace setting. A collaborative approach is vital and it was great to see two of the City’s libraries, Shoe Lane and Artizan Street, hosting Thrive In The City activities.”
Julia Hillman, co-founder of Thrive in the City was delighted that she and her co-founders Will Nicholson and Stacy Thomson executed this event from an idea borne five months ago.
“The hard work starts here, Julia Hillman said. “Now we have first-hand feedback from City workers and residents to tell us both what they want and what they need, to support their mental wellbeing. This clearly sets out the call to action for Thrive in the City and enables us to develop the implementation phase of creating the physical space in the City.”
My name is Stacy Thomson and I am a Mental Health Nurse and Performance Coach.
Approximately 2 years ago, I set out to take on the world of business – I wanted to do this in two ways.
Firstly, I was confident that I could coach people in business to perform better – be that at work or home. Over the last two years, this element of my business has grown and has provided such an overwhelmed sense of pride and excitement - I have been inspired by those I have met and coached.
Secondly, I wanted to help those working in business overcome mental health problems. I wanted to help reduce stigma by encouraging and supporting people to speak up about their experiences and I wanted to help develop toolkits and ways to prevent people developing mental health problems within the business environment.
These goals and values, still drive me to do what I do and provide me with the motivation to keep banging those doors down. I believe it is my purpose to help others. You see, despite this drive, I have come across many stumbling blocks - some of which are beyond frustrating and at times I have questioned how far we have really come.
On a positive note (and there are many), over the last two years I have connected with some of the most amazing people in business doing great work in the space of mental health and well-being, to name just a few; Minds@Work, Business Healthy, City Mental Health Alliance, MIND and Business in the Community. Since November 2016 I have also been part of the leadership team at Minds@Work and I’m proud that as a community we continue to grow, educate and support far and wide.
In addition, I have met some amazing people who also share my purpose - two of those people are William Nicholson (Dragon Café) and Julia Hillman (Second Mile Consulting) with whom I have recently begun working with on an exciting new mental health project to create a well-being space in the City.
Senior leaders have come out and openly talked about their mental health struggles via campaigns such a ‘This is Me’ and ‘This is my Story’. We have seen companies such as Deloitte, Herbert Smith Freehills, Lendlease and many others have taken great strides in supporting the mental well-being of their staff.
We have also seen some amazing and supportive media stories with not only celebrities and sports people talking about their own experience of mental health but even members of the Royal family too (Heads Together).
In January, the government also announced that it was to launch a review into mental health practices in the workplace. Led by Lord Dennis Stevenson, a mental health campaigner, and Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive Officer at MIND and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, the review will focus on how best to support employees with mental health problems, to ensure they can continue to thrive and perform their best at work.
However, as a mental health nurse, one thing that I have struggled to understand is the lack of mental health practitioners in business. I have worked within the NHS for over 15 years, so I can say with experience that the majority of the NHS mental health workforce is made up of mental-health nurses.
Over the past 10 years or so, we have seen the rise of psychological interventions and therapies - in particular, ‘talking therapies’ such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
As a nurse, I, like many others have been trained to deliver many different types of treatments including a variety of psychological interventions - this is via our education, our experience, and ongoing development. We are trained specialists in the identification, assessment, treatment and crisis management of most mental health issues.
Considering the majority of the workforce within the field mental health, are mental health nurses, why do we see very few working within the business world. From my experience, the few that are, have gone on to specialise as Cognitive Behavioural Therapists.
What is more than obvious, is that businesses need to step up and remove some of the burden on the NHS. We need to be adopting a preventative approach.
Last year alone a record 17 million working days were lost, costing the economy at least £2.4billion, according to the UK Statistics Authority. Figures taken from the Labour Force Survey show that such absenteeism has increased by 25 per cent over the past year. This compares with 13.6 million days lost in 2014 and 15.2 million days during 2013. Last year a TUC study revealed that someone in Britain is made ill by stress at work every two minutes.
So what is on offer?
In the business world, of course, we have Employee Assistance Providers. Whilst I believe that in theory, these are a good idea, evidence would suggest that people are just not using them – with a mere 6/7% (this figure is high) taking up this service.
Many companies have in-house Occupational Health Nurses (most often outsourced), who will often see/speak on the phone with the individual first. From experience, who ever speaks to that individual first (GP, OH or manager), if a potential mental health issue is brought up (often via a checklist of symptoms), often the response is to signpost to the EAP where they can access a GP, counseling, therapy, psychology and/or a psychiatrist.
Some companies offer more than others with some training staff in Mental Health First Aid as well as providing Mental Health Networks, Self Help online applications/services and host various well-being seminars/events each year.
So here is the frustrating bit, often the person does not need therapy, psychology or even a psychiatrist. As a 'preventive service', we should also be aiming to ‘prevent’ the requirement for any of these pathways. Now I am not saying that at times, a referral to any of the above is not necessary, but what I am saying, is that it shouldn’t be the first port of call.
I think mental health nurses in business, is simply a no brainer.
What do I believe are the benefits of employing a Mental Health Nurse:
They can act as the first point of clinical contact for employees with a potential mental health issue. The MH nurse would triage patients appropriately – therefore initiating the most appropriate interventions and/or onward referral.They could case manage referrals themselves – offering many different interventions including supporting and empowering people to take care of themselves through self-care and self-help.They could reduce the number of referrals to external sourcesThey could provide supervision for Mental Health First Aiders/Champions, Managers and other key stakeholders who are working with those who are experiencing mental ill healthThey could deliver training on mental health/well-being issues including self-careThey could provide support to stakeholders and employees with crisis management and business environment issues.They could provide ongoing support for employees with long term mental health difficultiesThey could build trusting and supportive relationships with stakeholders and employees, therefore encourage more people to use the service and speak upThey could offer strategy advice with regards to wellbeing and employee engagementThey could facilitate the development of innovations in corporate mental well-being servicesThey could work collaboratively with others within the business involved in well-being
Above, are just some of the benefits of employing a mental health nurse within a business.
This month, another person committed suicide in the City of London. This simply cannot go on - and as my good friend, Geoff McDonald says 'the time has come to give the mental well-being of their employees the same level of investment priority. This not only makes good business sense but more importantly, it is the right thing to do'.
We couldn't be more proud of our very own Minds@Work Kevin Braddock who has been working on something for quite a while now: a amazing new publishing project which includes 'Torchlight: A Publication About Asking for Help', and 'Practice Cards', pack of playing cards with suggestions on living with depression and anxiety: a way to make a game out of recovery or 'getting better'.
Torchlight is the chronicle of a breakdown and recovery, from suffering with severe depression and anxiety to asking for help, beginning to get better, and discovering different ways to live.
Lucid, useful, tactile, and beautifully illustrated, Torchlight is an example of how storytelling can be used to understand and represent these difficult yet widespread experiences in the course of human life.
People are talking openly about mental illness today: over its 154 pages Torchlight tells an extraordinary tale for our times.
You can also find Kevin's film about how to ask for help here:
It is amazing how Kevin uses storytelling as a way to help others and he has been presenting this project in a few “Firegazing” events – storytelling meetings – in Berlin and London, and he plans to run more. If you'd be interested in hosting one of these amazing events, get in touch with Kevin at www.torchlightsystem.com.
Well done Kevin!!
Original post can be found: http://www.mindsatworkmovement.com/news/2017/7/14/torchlight-a-publication-about-asking-for-help-by-kevin-braddock
Work-related stress and other mental health conditions are estimated to be the biggest occupational health problem in the UK and the main cause of employee absence.
Analysts estimate that sickness absence costs £8.4 billion each year - the average employee takes seven days off sick each year of which 40 per cent are for mental health problems. This adds up to 70 million lost working days a year, including one in seven directly caused by a person’s work or working conditions.
Another £15.1 billion in reduced productivity - ‘Presenteeism’ accounts for 1.5 times as much working time lost as ‘absenteeism’ and costs more to employers because it is more common among higher-paid staff.
A further £2.4 billion is lost replacing staff who leave work because of mental ill-health.
Overall, recent estimates put the cost of mental ill health to UK employers at nearly £26 billion each year. That is equivalent to £1,035 for every employee in the UK workforce.
3 in every 10 employees will have a mental health problem in any one year - the great majority of which will be anxiety and depressive disorders.
Mental health problems account for the loss of over 70 million working days each year. The number of working days lost to “stress, depression and anxiety” in the UK rose by 24 per cent between 2009 and 2013, while the number of days lost to “serious mental illness” roughly doubled.
60-70% of people with common mental disorders are in work, it is crucial that those people are helped to keep working, to benefit their own health as well as the economy.
Only 4 in 10 employees disclose to their employer feelings or symptoms of stress or mental health difficulties. Over 50% seek help outside of work.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Mental Health Coaching combats and helps to prevent work-related stress and other mental health conditions.
If you are a city professional, you're likely to spend a part of your day dealing with career-related stress. The hours, the responsibilities, the pressures to deliver consistent compelling results – all add up. Often, employees are highly competitive, results-oriented people who do not want to appear weak to their peers. Over the past few years, we have also seen a number of deaths among finance workers which have raised concerns about their stress levels.
The corporate world is beginning to realise the scale of the problem - employers need to encourage and create a space for employees to speak about any mental health worries.
1:1 MENTAL HEALTH COACHING
It is common to think that people who are suffering from depression need the services of a psychiatrist, but mental health coaching might offer an easier and alternative solution for individuals suffering through periods of stress, anxiety or depression.
As a Mental Health Coach, Stacy is not a psychiatrist or a doctor – she is a coaching expert who is dual-trained in mental health. This means she has skills in assessment, risk management, containment and a tool kit of evidence-based psychological interventions which enable her to work confidentially with many mental health conditions without the requirement of a referral to say a counsellor or therapist.
Unfortunately, many employees who may be experiencing struggles are fearful of judgement, it is still tough to say ‘I’m going to see my therapist.’ However, it is okay to say ‘I’m going to see my coach’. This may be because of two related problems. The first is the stigma surrounding mental ill-health, despite its prevalence. One in four of us will at some stage suffer from mental illness, one in six at any one time. Employees are often reluctant to come forward and discuss mental issues with their employers, and by the same token, evidence suggests many employers underestimate the extent of the problem among employees. Coaching is seen as a much more positive, sensitive, appealing and preferred way for an employer to support and provide help.
If you are interested in providing a mental health coaching service in your workplace or you are a professional who feels coaching might be for you then contact Stacy here.
MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY
Are you a forward thinking organisation who wants to be recognised as a leader when it comes to tackling mental health issues at work. If so, Stacy can work with you to provide what the very few do. Get in touch if you would like to lead by example, by having an onsite mental health practitioner who can offer:
Peer support and supervision for mental health mentors/first aiders/championsAdvice & supervisory support for anyone managing an employee who has mental health difficultiesStrategy advice and guidance with regards to well-being and employee engagementTraining delivery on wellbeingGroup interventions such a mindfulnessThe first point of contact for employees with potential mental health issues including a triage, assessment & management (including brief intervention) system for those in crisis, complex cases, long term mental health conditions or those concerned about their mental healthSignposting to other agencies including liaison with occupational health services
If you are interested in any of the above bespoke services please contact Stacy here.
As a performance coach, I come across perfectionism all the time. Working predominantly within the finance world - 95% (if not higher) of my clients are perfectionistic.
When I first bring this up with a client, it is often met with ‘no, I’m definitely not a perfectionist’ or ‘no, I don’t think that’s true’. Now, I don’t make this statement on a whim, I have been listening and have observed during our sessions comments such as; ‘I have no free time’ or ‘I don’t trust others to do as good a job as I do so I end up doing it all’ and ‘I don’t do things I know I’m not going to be good at’.
When clients tell me they have achieved or had some success at something or that they have managed to get that deal that they have been putting so much time and effort into, it is often met with a feeling that it’s not enough. They also appear to not get any validation in the winning anymore, often thinking that they could have done better. After years of doing the job, even the reward or the recognition isn't even enough.
Some of the perfectionistic readers out there will be reading this and saying ‘no, that’s not me’. So let me take a deeper look into perfectionism to see if I can change your mind.
Firstly, I want to make it clear that I believe that there is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist, in fact, I am a perfectionist myself in many ways (but it's under control - honest!).
You see in today’s world most of us are bombarded with demands to improve our performance. We are constantly evaluated, corrected and often rated by different people in our lives. As children our parents correct us when we are first learning to talk, we are taught how to dress, eat and how to act and behave. This continues as we grow up and our behaviour continues to be corrected, evaluated, criticised and rewarded. This often leads to us learning to seek the approval of others that we must achieve specific standards.
We learn that when we do make mistakes, there are often negative consequences. For example, when growing up our parents and teachers may criticise us if our grades fall short or they may remove privileges until our performance improves to what it is expected to be.
As adults, we also have external and internal pressures to succeed and perform at a particular level.
Firstly, it’s not necessarily about being ‘perfect’. I mean, is it even possible to be 100% perfect? So what exactly do we mean when we say that someone is a perfectionist? How is it different from a healthy desire to achieve high standards?
Ironically, researchers have not been able to come up with the 'perfect' definition, but most appear to share several features, some of which I have summarised below:
The relentless striving for extremely high standards that are very difficult or impossible to meet.Judging your self-worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting high standards.Whilst having high standards are helpful, these unrelenting standards actually interfere with performance.Experiencing negative consequences as a result of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to strive for them, despite the cost to yourself.Perfectionism is often associated with anxiety and depression.
I think we would all agree that it is generally a good idea to have high standards, and of course, I am a great advocate for setting goals. However, when those standards are simply unobtainable or only achievable at a great cost, it makes it very difficult to feel good about yourself. It's is also hard to talk or tell someone about how you feel just in case people make judgements about our abilities or believe you have failed. This is when perfectionism becomes a problem.
So where does it come from?
There has been very little research for me to give a definitive answer, however, there are a number of speculative causes. What we do know is that both psychological and biological factors contribute to our personalities and there have been various studies to support this theory around the role genetics and learning play in the development of personality traits.
So, let’s look at some things that may influence the development and maintenance of perfectionism:
Genetics – there have been numerous studies that tell us that genetics play an important role in the development of personality traits. However, if perfectionism is partly inherited, you may assume that it cannot be changed but this is not the case. In fact, specific types of psychological therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you to overcome such problems and can assist people to change the way they think or behave.
Reward & reinforcement – having high standards is often rewarded in society. Working hard generally leads to higher grades, praise from parents and teachers, a new job, a promotion or a big bonus. Also, when we look and dress our best, society often rewards physical attractiveness. Others find us more attractive and it may lead and improve our chances of finding certain types of work or a romantic relationship. At work, people are often rewarded for their perfectionism behaviours, this often leads to the belief that if they are not perfect, their work will be compromised and results will be seen as inferior. and not good enough.
Punishment – as we grow up we are often punished for making mistakes. This is often to decrease the frequency of the punished behaviour. For example, we are often criticised for doing things as we are growing up for things we do wrong, this may lead to us believing that it is always important to do things correctly. Other forms of punishment may include receiving bad grades, not get the jobs we want, being laughed at by our peers, losing money or a relationship ending. Even more so, if we are punished excessively we are likely to develop very rigid beliefs that it's is very important to not make mistakes.
Modelling – as we grow up we learn how to behave by observing others. We can develop fears by watching others who are fearful. For example, having an anxious mother or father may lead us to develop our own anxieties. Often people who develop perfectionistic behaviours state that they grew up around others who had the same standards.
Information & instruction – we can learn certain behaviours from various sources of information including what we are exposed to in the media, or by talking to others. For example, we can develop a fear of flying when we read about various plane crashes in the news. Being told by parents, teachers or partners, or even by society in general that things need to be done in a certain way, or more importantly that it is essential mistakes are not made, can all contribute to perfectionism.
In this article, I have discussed some of the ideas around perfectionism and I have described how our negative experiences may contribute and play a role.
Being a perfectionist doesn't necessarily mean that you have unrelenting standards in all aspects of your life, although this is the case for some. It is actually possible to be a perfectionist in only one area of your life (for example at work), but not in another area of your life (such as health/fitness).
What is important to remember that there is a big difference between the healthy striving and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for perfection.
If you feel after reading this article you would like some help to change your thinking and behaviour please contact me to discuss how I can potential help change your life, whilst making you even more successful both professional and personally.
To get in touch, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Age: 54 Chairman and CEO, Google The advice that sticks out I got from John Doerr, who in 2001 said, "My advice to you is to have a coach." I initially resented the advice, because after all, I was a CEO. I was pretty experienced. Why would I need a coach? Am I doing something wrong? My argument was, How could a coach advise me if I'm the best person in the world at this? But that's not what a coach does. The coach doesn't have to play the sport as well as you do. They have to watch you and get you to be your best. In the business context a coach is not a repetitious coach. A coach is somebody who looks at something with another set of eyes, describes it to you in [his] words, and discusses how to approach the problem. Once I realized I could trust him and that he could help me with perspective, I decided this was a great idea. When there is [a] business conflict you tend to get rat-holed into it. [Bill's (coach)] general advice has been to rise one step higher, above the person on the other side of the table, and to take the long view. He'll say, "You're letting it bother you. Don't."
So escaping the corporate world and becoming an entrepreneur is certainly an attractive deal for any of you aspiring to be your own boss. However, before you jump ship it is important to acknowledge just how hard it can be to launch a successful startup.
Running your own business today is a difficult task.
Sallie Krawcheck, owner of professional women's network Ellevate stated in a recent article posted on LinkedIn that she tells 'anyone who asks that being an entrepreneur is tougher than running Merrill Lynch.' She of course should know as not only did she hold the title of CEO of Stanford Bernstein and Smith Barnet, she also ran Merrill Lynch Wealth Management for more than two years.
The first piece of advice she gives is that before you considering pursuing a career as an entrepreneur you need to take a long hard look at your finances to see if you can afford to invest heavily in your business whilst earning little or no income. This is with the idea that 'it's not how much you can make, but how little you can make and for how long'.
Secondly, she recommended some introspective research before jumping in head first. It is important to know what your true motivations are? Is it your passion for creating something out of nothing, or is it the idealised portrait of life as an entrepreneur?
Even if you are financially prepared and you are doing it for all of the right reasons, it's safe to assume that, to some degree, you will fail. According to Krawcheck, all entrepreneurs fail at some point. It's how you deal with the failure, how quick you recover that matters. You will be rejected, its just a matters of getting past the rejections.
Of course, life as a entrepreneur does sounds rather appealing and glamorous when you are on the outside looking in. Building your own company, setting your own schedule and rules can all be incredible alluring. In fact entrepreneurs are often idolised as they appear to be happier, more successful, and more driven than anyone else. However, I was to discuss the hidden dark side of being an entrepreneur and the psychological price they often pay for their choices. You see the demands of owning your own business may prevent the entrepreneur from making positive lifestyle choices which can prevent mental health problems. Here are just a few ways in which being an entrepreneur can take it's toll on your psychological well being.
Entrepreneurs are often isolated which can increase the risk of depression. They also work long hours and are often not able to take care of themselves. The mentality that 'time is money' means that they devote less time to sleep, leisure, relationships, exercise and other activities that can ward off depression.
Depression comes in many forms, it doesn't always present as sadness. Sleep difficulties, irritability and changes in weight are all signs and symptoms that can also be associated with depression. The entrepreneur may also attempt to mask the symptoms by working even longer hours, or they may in fact believe that the symptoms are stress-related which can make the symptoms worse.
In extreme cases, the entrepreneur may even experience thoughts to harm themselves or end their life. Extreme success, fame and fortune doesn't prevent anyone from experiencing a mental health issue.
Self worth issues
Many entrepreneurs tie there self worth with their net worth. If business is profitable and is doing well their self esteem goes through the roof. But when they lose a little bit of money or fail to reach their targets and goals, they find themselves struggling with their own identity because their business isn't just what they do, it's who they are.
Many entrepreneurs believe that if they work hard enough they will be successful. Despite this notion, the figures are actually quite grim. Statistics actually suggest that only about one-third of small businesses survive a decade. Statistics on start-ups are even bleaker with reports suggesting that as many at 90% of them fail. These kind of set backs can cause a psychological crisis with the entrepreneur living by the mantra that 'failure isn't an option'.
Entrepreneurs are not only under a lot of stress, but also a lot of pressure. The pressure of knowing that this months mortgage payment depends on you closing a deal, or feeling that you are unable to spend time with the family because you need to keep working - all of which can bring about anxiety. Entrepreneurs may struggle to function normally as they are constantly worried about their business.
The strong desire to achieve can also be at times detrimental to their well-being, with them second guessing their actions and ruminating over worst case scenarios. This constantly anxiety can be exhausting and immobilising, and for many entrepreneurs it can eventually lead to burn out.
An entrepreneurs is passionate by nature and even a little obsessive. Their compulsive drive to keep going, even when faced with adversity such as relationship or health problems can actually be an addiction.
A 2014 study by the Journal of Business Venturing found that habitual entrepreneurs were found to display symptoms of behavioural addiction that included obsessive thoughts, withdrawal-engagement cycles, suffering through negative emotional outcomes, high levels of strain, negative physical health and negotiating tolerance of resources and self worth. Similar to other addictions like gambling and drug abuse these serial entrepreneurs are more likely to experience negative consequences which originate from their desire to keep going. There is evidence to also suggest that people with an addiction in one area are more likely to have a behaviour or substance abuse addiction in other areas.
Entrepreneurship - create a realistic attitude is the key to success
It is therefore important to reconsider the romantic notion that being an 'entrepreneur' and being your own boss is the key to happiness. Whilst there are many benefits, for some the psychological drawbacks just don't make it worth it.
Emotional difficulties are not a sign of weakness. The entrepreneur lifestyle is one which lends itself to reduced resilience against mental health issues. Therefore, is it essential that as a entrepreneur you must take a proactive approach in order to prevent emotional problems and build mental strength.
If you are already experiencing or noticing the psychological toll of business ownership and you would like to seek some help please get in touch.
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the UK and elsewhere, yet it is still under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated.
The experience of anxiety often involves interconnected symptoms and disorders. It is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, while one in six experience a neurotic disorder such as anxiety or depression. Anxiety disorders are also estimated to affect 3.3% of children and young adults in the UK.
The prevalence of the most common forms of anxiety are given below.
While 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.About 1.2% of the UK population experience panic disorders, rising to 1.7% for those experiencing it with or without agoraphobia.Around 1.9% of British adults experience a phobia of some description, and women are twice as likely to be affected by this problem as men.Agoraphobia affects between 1.5% and 3.5% of the general population in its fully developed form; in a less severe form, up to one in eight people experience this.Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 2.6% of men and 3.3% of women.Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) affect around 2–3% of the population.Generalised Anxiety Disorder affects between 2–5% of the population, yet accounts for as much as 30% of the mental health problems seen by GPs.
Previous survey evidence suggests that:
Although, on average, women rate their life satisfaction higher than men, their anxiety levels are significantly higher than men.People in their middle years (35 to 59) report the highest levels of anxiety compared to other age groups.People in the older age groups tend to be happier and less anxious.People with a disability are, on average, more anxious than people without a disability.Unemployed people report significantly higher anxiety levels than those in employment.People in the lowest income groups report significantly higher anxiety levels than those in the higher income groups.On average, all ethnic groups report higher levels of anxiety than people who describe themselves as White British.Young people aged 16–24 are more likely to report lower levels of anxiety compared with adults generally.Women and young adults aged 20–29 are the most likely to seek help for anxiety from their GP.
Additionally, a YouGov survey of 2,300 adults in Britain carried out for Mental Health Awareness Week 2014 reveals that:
Almost one in five people feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time.Only one in twenty people never feel anxious.Women are more likely to feel anxious than men.The likelihood of feeling anxious reduces with age.Students and people not in employment are more likely to feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time.Financial issues are a cause of anxiety for half of people, but this is less likely to be so for older people.Women and older people are more likely to feel anxious about the welfare of loved ones.Four in every ten employed people experience anxiety about their work.Around a fifth of people who are anxious have a fear of unemployment.Younger people are much more likely to feel anxious about personal relationships.Older people are more likely to be anxious about growing old, the death of a loved one and their own death.The youngest people surveyed (aged 18 - 24) were twice as likely to be anxious about being alone than the oldest people (aged over 55 years).One-fifth of people who have experienced anxiety do nothing to cope with it.The most commonly used coping strategies are talking to a friend, going for a walk, and physical exercise.Comfort eating is used by a quarter of people to cope with feelings of anxiety, and women and young people are more likely to use this as a way of coping.A third of the students in the survey said they cope by ‘hiding themselves away from the world’.People who are unemployed are more likely to use coping strategies that are potentially harmful, such as alcohol and cigarettes.Fewer than one in ten people have sought help from their GP to deal with anxiety, although those who feel anxious more frequently are much more likely to do this.People are believed to be more anxious now than they were five years ago.There is a tendency to reject the notion that having anxious feelings is stigmatising.People who experience anxiety most frequently tend to agree that it is stigmatising.Just under half of people get more anxious these days than they used to and believe that anxiety has stopped them from doing things in their life.Most people want to be less anxious in their day-to-day lives.Women and younger people are more likely to say that anxiety has impacted on their lives.
The Mental Health Foundation has published the above information & statistics. For more information about anxiety you can find them at http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/