How to Get out of a Funk

Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment.  I was not happy with my check-up.  Over a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.  I began to make life changes.  I lost over 30 pounds.  I changed the way I ate (yes, I cheated from time to time).  I made other changes as well.

From a recent wellness exam we do at work, I saw that my blood sugar numbers actually went back up a bit.  Also, I’m in the middle of some heart tests now.  And I’m back on medication.

This put me in a funk. I was doing things that were supposed to help, but I’ve gone backwards.  I know genetics are at work, but this “set back” has not been good.

So, how do I get out of this funk?  I know the eating regimen I’ve been on is good for me.  I just need to ramp it up.  I need to change my exercise to something more rigorous.  I need to follow my doctor’s orders.

I found the following this morning.  It’s good advice.  I need to follow it.  If you’re in a funk or have been in one, perhaps this may help you or someone you know.  Share this!

  1. Connect with people. As I wrote in a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, who we are and how we experience ourselves often has more to do with who surrounds us than anything else. When feeling low, one of the fastest ways to pick yourself up is to connect with specific people you know bring energy out of you.
  2. Commit to a new goal. Sometimes my listlessness is purposelessness in disguise. Human beings are not only intrinsically driven by a sense of purpose but also seem to require a sense of purpose to lead a satisfying life. It needn’t be a grand purpose, but it must be a purpose that feels important to you.
  3. Read an engrossing book or see an emotionally powerful movie. Both have the power to transport us, to provide a perspective far removed from our own, and in doing so, unlock emotions we want to feel: joy, hope, warmth—even sadness. When in a funk, what we feel doesn’t seem to be as important as finding a way to feel something.
  4. Travel. Though travel has never been one of my favorite things to do, it does accomplish something important when I’m in a funk: it takes away familiar environmental cues and replaces them with unfamiliar ones. And as most of our behavior and emotions are cued by our environment (from turning off lights when we leave a room to the sinking feeling we may get as we approach our place of work), if we want to act and feel differently, changing our environmental cues is a good place start. Not that you can escape yourself by relocating geographically. But you can be helped to access different parts of yourself.  Jim’s note:  traveling doesn’t have to take you far.  It can be traveling to a state/national park and hike.  Just get out of your surroundings for a bit. 
  5. Wait patiently. No mood lasts forever. And life won’t leave you alone but will eventually present you with new challenges that activate you. And even if such challenges are difficult, they will often bring out your best self.

Resource for these steps:  How to Get Out of a Funk

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I am Accountable – are you sure?  by Michael Cahill

All along my employment journey, I have had positions that had varying amounts of responsibility, and I believed I held myself very accountable. If asked in the summer of 2008 (when I became CEO of a publicly traded company), how accountable I held myself, I would have answered that I held myself extremely accountable.

I was wrong.

That is hard to say, and it took me a few years to see the light, and probably another year or so to admit it. What happened?

I was in front of the very same board (I was CEO of the company’s largest subsidiary prior to the summer of 2008). I knew all the details and activities of the company. However, there was now no one between me and the directors. One of the directors sole focus was holding the CEO accountable – period.

At first, I thought it was about blame. Then I thought is was just about picking on me. Then I thought is was personal.

Once again, I was wrong.

This director did not care about blame. It was not personal, and he was not picking on me. He just cared about what I was going to do to correct things going forward and to insure poor results did not reoccur.

He did not care how it happened, or who did it. He did not care if 15 of the 16 key metrics were good. He wanted to know why all sixteen were not good. What was I doing about the one bad metric?

I could not play CYA. I could not say that overall we were good. I could not use any other tactic to get around it. I had to own everything. I was CEO because a great majority of my decisions were good ones. I was CEO because a great majority of my actions were the right ones. I was CEO because I had selected the right strategies. However, as CEO I had to be held accountable for 100% of what is going on. It was the board’s job to hold me to that standard.

A funny thing happened along the way. I became more and more comfortable with this level of accountability. I recognized it was not about blame. It was about always getting better. It was about improvement. It was about be able to face adversity and take on that challenge versus hiding from it. The more accountability I took, the easier it became.

Errors or bad results are just challenges to overcome. Bad things happen – always. It is not about avoidance, but honestly admitting these ‘bad things’ and coming forward with solutions and actions to overcome them.

So how do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame others? Do you divert attention? Do you CYA? Do you hide, or do you own it, see it as a challenge, and come back with solutions, ideas, and tactics to overcome the issues?

I want to work with people who hold themselves and others accountable. Easier said than done, but it is so worth it!

As an aside, as I was working on becoming more accountable and less defensive, I would sometimes say in a board meeting – “Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure I will appreciate it tomorrow.” I was half kidding, but once I got over my defensive posture, I knew I would be a better person for it.

The cool thing? The more accountable I became, the less fear I had. The less fear I had, the more accountable I was. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

So next time something bad happens to you or to your company, or division, or team, go down the checklist. Did you hide? Did you blame? Did you CYA? Did you divert? Or did you state the issue and lay out how to correct the problem and keep it from happening again?

Who would you rather be around?






Overcoming by Jim Johnson 

I am continually amazed by my children. They love to push themselves and seem to excel in things that they do. Believe me, they are not perfect in any way. But their resilience encourages me.

Last night my 5th grade son performed the role of Captain Hook and his school’s musical Peter Pan, Jr.  Around Thanksgiving when he tried out for this part, I will admit I was surprised. He has typically been very shy. But he wanted to go for it. Perhaps it was because his sister had a leading role in Shrek the Musical a couple of years ago. Regardless he went for the part he wanted and he earned it.

Last night our elementary school hosted its 36th annual Music Theater. There were a couple of hundred people in the audience. And right before the performance my son got stage fright.
My wife, the principal, his teacher, and I all talked with him. It was a combined effort of encouragement and speaking positive affirmations to him. At one point I told him, “you can do this.” And he looked at me and very emphatically said, “I don’t think I can.”

I reminded him of an incident in baseball last year where he was feeling the same thing about pitching. I reminded him that he faced that obstacle and was able to overcome it. I told him I believed he could overcome this, too. His teacher later told me that she also used baseball as a way to encourage him.

His teacher then asked him to go do his first scene. He did and performed it incredibly well – including a vocal solo. When he walked off stage he told his teacher he didn’t think he could go back and do the next scene. She said, “you’ve got to give me one more.”

He went on to his next scene. He did very well in that one. When he walked off stage he looked at his teacher and said, “I don’t think I can do another one.” She looked him straight in the eye and said, “come on, man. You’ve got to give me one more.”

The third scene he was on stage again, he did great. When he walked off stage, his teacher told me later that he looked at her and said, “I’ve got this.” He went on and had a great performance.

Capt Hook and his teacher

I am so incredibly proud of my son who faced an incredible fear – the fear of speaking in public, performing, of being vulnerable in front of people he knew and people he did not know. And yet he faced his fear, and he beat his fear.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. Personal growth comes when we face our fears head-on. When we step out on that stage and go for it. When we have mentors and coaches who encouraged us along the way. When we realize deep inside that we can do it.

What fear are you facing today? Get with your coach or mentor and let them encourage you. And then jump up on that stage and dazzle yourself and others!
You can do it!

What Do You Do in a Coaching Session? by Jim Johnson

My leadership team and I will soon be discussing how we can improve upon our coaching sessions.  In preparation of this, I would like to solicit YOUR feedback.  I would appreciate your responses in the Comment section on the following:

  1. What makes an effective coaching session with a team member?
  2. How often do you coach a team member?  Once a month?  Twice a month?
  3. What is the difference between a team member who has experience vs one who demonstrates expertise?  How does a team member move from experienced to expertise?
  4. How should talk the most in a coaching session – the coach or the team member?

You may respond to any or all of the above.  Just make a note of the question you are answering by typing the corresponding number and then your answer.

Thank you in advance for your participation.  No matter what part of the world you are in or what your occupation is, please share your thoughts!  We can all learn from each other.

when leaders become beter