Riding an emotional Yo-yo
This is the “Y” installment of the series “Alphabet for Leaders.”
Emotional lows inevitably follow emotional highs. Nagging stress pulls you down like a lead weight. In addition, monthly physical cycles, duties you’d like to avoid, unexpected failures, and reoccurring problems lower your defenses and drain your emotional energy.
On the other hand, unexpected successes, individuals who exceed expectations, positive outcomes to ugly tasks, and affirming feedback lift you. They fill your emotional tank.
Admittedly, some leaders are more susceptible to emotional ups and downs than others. However, every leader feels the ebb and sway of emotional highs and lows. If you aren’t careful, you’ll ride an emotional yo-yo.
Eight ways to deal with the emotional yo-yo
#1. Make investments in your emotional well-being. You may become consumed with serving others, completing projects, and solving the next problem. Do a quick inventory. Are you rejuvenating your emotional well-being? If you aren’t careful, your emotional tank will run dry and you’ll get stuck on empty.
#2. Tell a trusted advisor you’re running out of steam. You may enjoy presenting the façade of invincibility but eventually it will destroy you. Sharing frustrations, disappointments, and stress may re-energize you.
#3. Develop processes and procedures that create higher levels of predictability. For example, create check lists for repeated tasks that free your mind to focus on achievement.
#4. Get some rest.
#5. Do the dirty deeds you’ve been putting off. Procrastination drains you. The dread of doing hated tasks is more draining than actually doing them.
#6. Watch your diet. I find eating fewer carbohydrates and more protein helps level the emotional playing field.
#7. Leverage rituals. I eat lunch nearly every day with my wife. It’s a point of energizing sameness.
#8. Give yourself something to look forward to.
What techniques can you offer that refuel a leaders emotional tank?
Can you think of other “Y” words for leaders?
Greed and fear destroy emotion and honesty promotes emotion. Where there is greed or fear, there will be selfishness and this will kill emotion. So, to have emotion, leader has to overcome greed and fear. Overcoming greed and fear encourages honesty and determination.
The other way to increase and inculcate emotion is to engage in social activities that focus on helping needy, underprivileged and poor. Even an insensitive person can be transformed with exposing in such a social activities.
I agree that the dread of doing hated task is more draining than actually doing it, so better we should do it quickly.
The Y of leaders are- young, yield, yes-man, yellow journalism etc. Leader has to be young at heart and focus on yielding positive outcomes. He must keep away from yes-men and avoid yellow journalism to get cheap popularity.
Your comment contains great practical advice for nourishing emotional well-being. Love your introduction of greed and fear into the discussion.
I’ll add that letting go of things we can’t control can set us free. I think freedom helps our emotional well-being. I add this because I find honesty very freeing.
Thanks for you “Y’s” 🙂
Best to you,
Ajay’s featured contributor bio is at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Dan – Great post. It is easy for a leader to fall for the emotional yo-yo, For me, small rituals make all the difference. A trusted advisor once told me “you deserve a time out” and I now take one every day, spending 15 minutes doing something just for me that has nothing to do with the personal or professional demands of leadership. After my time out I find that dreaded tasks come easier, the idea I was searching for comes clear, and my energy comes back. I wrote about learning my lesson on the Little Life Stories Blog – you can find it here. http://bit.ly/bz5Voa
Just great! Thank you. I love small, practical, actionable ideas!
I’ll add that I’m getting back into taking a quick stroll every hour. Just getting up from the desk helps.
Thank you for leaving a link to your blog. I hope LF readers stop over.
How about not Yelling? In my experience, newbies put in a leadership role sometimes associate yelling with leading.
Now thats getting personal! 🙂 Thanks for a great Y.
I echo Joan on taking time for yourself. I call it putting “yourself” on the list. To be of value to an org., to other people, and to the future — you have to be in a balanced zone. Once you spot the yo-yo, you know your life is out of balance.
I have been there and many others as well. Your steps for avoiding the out of balance “yo yo” are right on target.
I add this point:
To stay in some balance – leaders must lose any “guilt” they have about giving back to themselves. I am not talking about greedy leaders who live lavish lives while problems abound around them.
Rather, leading the balance between giving to others and rejuvenating themselves along the way.
Very true in “customer service” where CSRs or tech. support reps are always giving positive attitude to customers. They need to refresh themselves or burnout creeps in.
It’s true of any profession and the leaders can model the balance so the whole org. doesn’t end up on the yo-yo.
Have a super “balanced” day!!
Great addition to the list of ideas to maintain emotional balance. Don’t feel guilty pouring some fuel into your own tank. Heck, chances are you are going to spend that fuel on others.
I saw someone on another blog say that the more willing we are to get help the more able we will be to help others.
Success to you,
It always helped me to call my neighboring store’s unit manager, chit chat a bit and put things into perspective. It’s those days where it seems that each employee, customer and supplier wants something from you. Talking to the fellow manager reminded me: a) this will be over tomorrow b) it could be worse. Doing something ‘different’ also helped me to get my mind off things: exploring a new part of town, bike riding, visiting a museum, going bowling, meeting new people, hiking…
As I read your comment, you reminded me to find people on a similar organizational level. There’s a place for sharing with a superior but when it comes to finding a person who can make you feel supported, nothing like someone doing the same thing and facing the same challenges. Great call!
Best to you,
Great one, Dan – Covey called it Sharpen the Saw – invest enough time and energy in yourself that you stay sharp and avoid the yo-yo.
You reminded me of this Lincoln quote:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax. Abraham Lincoln
Gotta sharpen the ax!
Leave the facade at home. The ‘face’ that people put on is quite prevalent here in Minnesota especially. “How are you?” is met with “Fine, how are you?” as an instinct reaction.
This extends to business relationships too – if we allow it.
Unfortunately, that ‘face’ also creates isolation. Isolation from others, isolation from our feelings and isolation from achievement and results.
That isolation is what drains emotions, the down slope on that yo-yo.
It’s why leaders believe ‘it’s lonely at the top’, because they’ve isolated themselves needlessly.
To keep the tank full, I suggest leaders eliminate isolation.
Love this comment. One way I’ve isolated myself is not asking for help. As time has passed I’ve begun to realize how limiting and self-defeating this, shall we say, arrogant attitude is.
Your comment adds value to me and I’m sure to the LF community.
Well done, Alan.
Yoicks, A-Z is almost done!
I was going to reference ‘maintaining leadership yapness’, but yo-yo hits the mark much better.
It is that dynamic change tension that is needed as it jumps us between being ‘in a groove’ and progressing while getting lots done and finding we are ‘in a rut’, yawning, doing the same old same old or worse that we have snapped due to constant tension.
Yet, it can be the same job. Hopefully not all in the same day.
It is leadership in balance and in perspective.
To gain perspective (and balance) you do have to risk–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Risking, being vulnerable to friends, other managers/leaders, significant others and even risking inward. Risks, particularly physical risks take a balance of wisdom and skill, this is not a ‘throw caution to the wind’ suggestion.
No easy task. Takes time, energy and commitment as do any of the leadership A-Zs.
Do something way out of your element and watch how your perspective shifts on so many different levels.
A successful risk tends to eliminate negative yo-yos and produces a really good night’s sleep too! Yawn!
Yes-probably one of the most powerful leadership words.
As usual you’re bringing it home. I’m impressed with “yawn” I hadn’t thought of that one. I can see you are no yippy dog.
I hear you saying if we feel ourselves on the downswing try something new. Sounds like great advice. Step out.
You’ve given me more than a yuk or two on this trip through the alphabet.
Check out Doc’s bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Hi Dan & Every one!!!
I enjoy reading your post and think that today LF note really expresses my feeling.
There is some time since beginig of 2010, that I knew some changes would happen soon or later this year on my career. The fact is that after 3 month leading with practical issue about offers and opportunities at local and aboard, I finally decided to undertaken a new challenged on my company, based on my own city, which will require me more responsibility and maturity, and covering larger scope of business. Behind I left an interesting also opportunity, more technical and based aboard, that doesn’t fits my personal goals at this stage.
However, despite the enthusiasm of deciding which of the 2 opportunities to undertake and pursuit, and the tough decision-making process during these months, I’m actually feeling a bit the Yo-yo effect.
That is would this be the right decision and direction? Would I regret some months later? I hope this is the good balance between life and work and that will allow me to reach my long term goal.
But I feel I do need to re-energize and renew myself to overcome the You-yo effect and reposition myself for this new role after holidays time 🙂
Love your comment. Thank you for sharing your story with the LF community.
Uncertainty and doubt combined with an unknown future can really take a toll on a person. The stress of it all wears us down.
You earned these opportunities because of your skills. I bet your new opportunity will require learning new skills. You did it in the past, you’ll do it again.
You have my best regards,
Thank you for your words of confort.
I take note on new skills: “You did it in the past, you’ll do it again.”
I count on LF to keep me on-track on tips of Leadership skills.
All My Best.
Yield – to your own humanity vulnerability and needs. This is the authenticicty that others yearn to see in their leaders.
Thanks for adding yield to the list of Y words. I find yield and encouraging, challenging, and freeing. In my own life, yield and anger seemed tied together. The more yielding the less anger and the more I see anger the less I see yielding.
Success to you,
I just discovered your blog today Dan. Nice article.
Every pastor and church planter I know goes through peaks and valleys. A few years into our church plant, I got depressed. It took me awhile to figure out I was actually depressed, so I stay there for several months. I finally figured out that if I wanted to get out of the valley, I needed to do more things that filled my emotional tank. So one day I sat down and wrote out 17 actions that pour life and energy back into me.
My list included things like, “Reading the Bible for leisure,” “Listening to a great speaker,” “Spending time with my kids,” and “Playing tennis.” Soon I found myself rebounded again. Since that time I’ve asked my staff and the pastors I mentor to write a “Tank-Filling List” whenever they start feeling depleted. It works!
From these lists I’ve found that everyone has a few personally unique tank-fillers rooted in their background and personality, while the top two tank-fillers are “having vision” and “having the encouragement and guidance of a mentor.” Vision fuels emotions, and an older-wiser-supportive friend brings hope and direction.
Thanks for adding to my list!
I’m sure your story will help Leadership Freak readers. It helps me. You’ve added value to everyone by bringing your practical project to this discussion. Thank you.
Since you are new, I’ll mention again that it’s reader comments that bring the most joy in my blogging life. Additionally, the diversity of the LF audience makes the comments interesting and enlightening.
I’ll affirm the tank-filling, life changing power of vision!
I’m looking forward to reading more of your insights. You helped fill my tank.
My favourite “y” word is YES. Opening yourself to opportunities and saying yes can sometimes be challenging, but the rewards are definitely worth it.
We have a motto in our dept where we try to “say yes more often”. And ever since we’ve been humming along beautifully.
Great post! I found several things I need to evaluate in my life. As a new first time Sr Pastor I never realized the ups and downs I was about to encounter. It makes me really appreciate the Pastor I worked under for 8 years.
Thanks for stopping and and sharing a bit of yourself with LF readers and leaving an encouraging word for me. I wish you success in your new endeavor.
Hi sir Dan,
Thanks for the post. It helps me a lot esp now that I am struggling with my relationship with my worker at the clinic where I am now managing.