If you’re driven and ambitious, you know that there’s usually a trade-off in life. Typically, your health and relationships suffer in the process, and it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to sustain long-term success while protecting what matters the most. However, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too.
As a result of 25 years of extensive study and executive coaching, international leadership coach Janine Woodcock has developed a trademarked program for making smarter decisions and developing skills to gain liberation from the unrelenting pressures of success.
She has coached high-performing individuals at companies ranging from Facebook to the Red Cross and is the author of “The Power of Choices: 7 Steps to Smarter Decisions About Work, Life and Success.” We asked Woodcock to share some of her secrets with MultiBriefs’ readers.
Understand your brain to remain open
“Understanding how your brain works is key to understanding how you interpret facts and experiences, and how these interpretations are then encoded into memories,” Woodcock says. And in turn, those memories serve as the lens through which you interpret the next set of facts and experiences.
“When you realize that it’s all about our own perception, you can step away from the judgement that your own worldview inevitably brings.” However, the key to remaining open is to let go of always having to be right. “By releasing your hold on being right and silencing the judgmental narrative that the human brain naturally creates, your engagement with the world and everyone in it shifts significantly to one of being able to hear and see things more openly.”
This allows you to have conversations that explore new possibilities instead of having discussions that circle around entrenched views. Actually, Woodcock says the latter is really unproductive. “The problem with everyone trying to get everyone else to see the world in the way they do is that it is impossible — if you understand the brain — because everyone’s worldview is unique.”
Being open to new and different ideas is crucial to your success. “If you can’t be open to hearing challenge, support, suggestion, criticism, encouragement, bad news or good news, it will be much harder to sustain and nourish your success,” Woodcock explains.
Understand and use your energy wisely
Ambitious people often find it hard to just do nothing, but not everything you do is productive. “Understanding our energy is a vital part of being able to survive and thrive in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world,” Woodcock says.
Most people think of something that they keep using up, but she says this is the wrong approach. “A crucial underpinning mindset is to think of our energy as something to manage, replenish and nourish.”
Also, as you’re completing various tasks throughout the day, each one will prompt a different energetic response. “Our personal energizers are unique to us, and tuning into things that have you feeling energized, enthusiastic, and empowered, compared with those things that make you feel drained, uninspired and lethargic, is a key starting point in being able to choose how to manage your energy.”
By understanding your own personal patterns, you can make better choices on how to use that energy.
Woodcock advises using your calendar to manage your week from an energy perspective. “For example, if completing a complicated and involved spreadsheet is not something that energizes you, plan that into your diary around some other activities that will reenergize you,” she recommends. “This will help motivate you to complete the non-energizing task rather than see it in your diary with a sinking heart, which might make you more likely to procrastinate.”
Understand your own resilience and what you can actually control
You often hear people describe themselves as being resilient or having a high level of resiliency. However, Woodcock recommends thinking about resilience as something you do and practice, instead of just something you have.
“What one person needs to maintain their resilience will be different from what another person does because we are all unique and our individual choices should be, too.” Ultimately, she says only you know what you need to thrive. “It can be tempting to dip into the myriad self-help books available and to take on board what we ‘should’ be doing to stay strong and capable.”
However, she says this “shower of should” could increase your stress levels. “We can’t control what happens around and to us, but we have full control over how we choose to respond to any situation that arises.” By understanding yourself, your responses, and your habits, Woodcock says you can make choices that create the future you desire.
Also, understanding your resilience requires self-reflection — thinking about your actions and the outcomes they produce. “Far too often, the things we do to manage stress — for example, high-intensity exercise, alcohol consumption, staying up late — have unintended long-term consequences,” she explains.
Sometimes these are great stress remedies, but other times, they’re not. “There is no fast-fix, one-size-fits-all definition of how to manage your own resilience. It’s a question of taking the time to engage with your own physiology, psychology and physicality to make your own unique choices.”