The Quick Read from Your SweetSpot Coaching | Consulting


Happy New Year!  This edition of "The Quick Read" focuses on strategies for the new year.  We're looking forward to staying connected with you throughout the year.

Avoid the Sacrifice Syndrome

Make time for renewal

When leaders sacrifice themselves continuously to their jobs they can become trapped in what is known as the Sacrifice Syndrome.  The Sacrifice Syndrome is the result of heavy responsibilities, the perpetual need to influence, and the pressure to get results.  Sacrifice leads to Power Stress, a unique blend of stress that results from constant involvement in complex choices, communication, and decision-making.  We all know that stress has always been part of the leader’s reality and always will be.  The real problem is too little recovery time.  Many leaders fail to manage the cycle of sacrifice and renewal, which is required to maintain leadership effectiveness.

Signs that you might be in or moving toward the Sacrifice Syndrome include:
  • Working harder with less results
  • Feeling tired, even after getting enough sleep
  • Drinking more coffee than usual
  • Unable to take vacation days
  • Finding less time (or no time at all) for the things you used to enjoy
  • Unable to talk about your problems with your spouse or significant other
  • Rarely able to attend your place of worship or find time for quiet contemplation
  • Less exercise or activity than you are used to
  • Feeling no one can understand what you need to do or how much you have to work
  • Feeling too over whelmed to seek new experiences, ideas, or ways of doing things 
Long before we figure it out cognitively, there are  clues that suggest we have lost ourselves and need to engage in renewal. Most of the time the cues are vague or easy to miss because they can be attributed to living a busy, stressful life (headaches, weight gain, irritability, disconnects at home, chronic illnesses).  How we deal with these cues depends in large part on how carefully we are attending to ourselves.
Pay attention to your cues, listen to the signals your body is sending you, and take action. Plan, create, and take advantage of opportunities to renew.  The work isn’t going anywhere.  Take care of yourself so that you are able to deliver your best work, and engage others in the most effective, motivating, and inspiring way.

Practice Realistic Optimism

EQ Corner

Ideally, optimism is rooted in rational thought and logic.  As you move into the New Year with positive thoughts about what's possible, check to ensure that your optimism is appropriately grounded. Consider asking for feedback on your goals to ensure that they are realistic; reflect on past successes and the strategies you used to achieve them; and get buy-in from others.  Watch for signs of hesitation or questions about the feasibility of your plans. Explore the signs, ask for thought partnership, and consider the perspective of others. By incorporating some of these safeguards, you can determine whether your goals will “bring others along” with you or leave them behind in the dust.

Give More of Yourself

Reframe Your Stories

The stories that reveal the most about us are usually the ones we would rather not share. Sometimes they are embarrassing, too painful, or make us feel vulnerable.  

I recently had a conversation with a leader who had experienced a challenging year.  His son was in a car accident and he lost a sibling to cancer.  As he reflected on the year it was clear that these two events had become part of his narrative.  He attributed many of his short comings of the previous year to these two events.  Very few people knew the impact of these events because they were too painful to share and they triggered an outpouring of emotion on the part of the leader.
After giving the situation some thought, I suggested that he reframe both events. Rather than focusing on his son’s accident, we discussed focusing on the fact that his son is now thriving and doing well.  Reframing the event created a story about resilience not tragedy.  Similarly, rather than focusing on the loss of his sibling  (admittedly not an easy task) I asked him to consider how he would celebrate his sibling’s life and ensure his legacy.  This thinking shifted the emphasis of the story to how his brother lived rather than his death.

I remember sending a condolence card to a senior leader after learning of the death of his father.  His handwritten thank you note was filled with memories of how his father influenced his life. It revealed another side of a leader with a reputation of being no nonsense and hard driving.  This highlights another aspect of storytelling.  We must create the space for people to share their stories, welcome "the reveal," and be comfortable with the demonstration of vulnerability.  
It can be challenging to reveal the deeper side of ourselves, especially if we believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness.  The presence of a leader is defined by a blend of power and vulnerability.  It’s a recipe for relatability, connection with others, and a demonstration of what it means to be human.  Share your stories.

When Time Allows...

Reflections of a New Year - 10 Days In


About Your SweetSpot Coaching | Consulting