Are you operating in crisis mode?

In a stressed out modern society where are the moments of clarity, attention and focus? Today, more than ever we are pulled in all directions by work/life demands and a bombardment of information delivered 24/7 through essential smart phones, tablets, lap tops etc.……

Working through and beyond the fall out of the economic crisis all areas of the public and private sector have been squeezed with increasing demands placed on people working at all levels.

In many cases 3rg have worked with organisations, teams and individuals who are at breaking point. So what do people do to not only cope, but work at expected increased levels of performance under these circumstances?

Crisis Mode

The unfortunately reality is many people are living and working in crisis mode or a fear based mode of living, which quickly becomes an established pattern of operating.

As detailed in Dr Steve Peters book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ our primitive responses can take over sending us into a cycle of anxiety and stress. Peter’s describes how we all have the Chimp in us and its drives, although there to keep us safe, can work against us, leaving people in what can be an almost constant state of Fight or Flight.

Operating in crisis mode becomes counter-productive, but while the demands and stresses grow people continue to operate in a world of clouded thinking with feelings of being overwhelmed.

So What Is The Answer?

To a large part the realities of peoples work situation may not be able to be changed – their boss is their boss, there are no more staff to carry the workload, there will be no more funding and the project needs to meet agreed deadlines.

These may be factors out of our control. What is in our control is our response to these pressures. Unlike other animals, which are stimulus – response creatures, human beings have the unique capability of choice and the gift of self-awareness.

In many cases the answer is counter-intuitive. Easing back on pushing, striving and stressing will allow for greater clarity, greater focus and in many cases a more positive frame of mind. Despite this recognition our natural reaction is to grip harder in an effort to gain the elusive control.

The detrimental results of this type of operating mode have been recognised by some major companies and organisations, one of the most prominent being Google who have invested largely in the wellbeing of their workforce.

Two examples of initiatives introduced by them include their Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme (from the work of the MBSR programme founder – John Kabat Zinn) and introductions to mindfulness and meditation with ex Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe (founder of Headspace).

The introduction of these programmes by Google shows the forward thinking mentality in approaches to stress and ultimately employee performance. On a wider scale the phenomenon of Mindfulness has shown the clear need for effective responses to the pressures we face in achieving an optimum work/life balance.

Mental Resilience and Performance

The first stage in managing our emotional reactions has to be one of awareness and acceptance that things are the way things are! (Perhaps not how we would like them to be!).

It is also true to say that well-managed stress can have a positive impact on performance, which may help high performing teams/individuals achieve their targets.

This in affect is harnessing the positive aspects of the fight or flight response to help us increase focus, cognitive processes and physical application. The problem that underlies is that we have been conditioned to associate stress with its negative connotations.

It is important to remember that stress is ‘our personal take’ based on the ‘lens’ we are looking through when faced with problems, issues and tasks etc. Taken in the negative context stress will be harmful and will be self fulfilling.

If however we can maintain a level of self-awareness we have a chance, moment by moment, to ‘step out of the story line’. To recognise that stress is subjective, very much under our control, and rethink our approach towards it.

Realigning ourselves to stress, to see it as a means to prepare mentally and physically for challenges, can impact how effectively we deal with it. This realignment and change in how we perceive stress can have significant effects on our biological state making us less anxious, less stressed and more confident.

Managing these states may be the challenge of a lifetime, but is there any better work………?

For more information on 3rg Leadership, Coaching, Performance and Mental Resilience programmes contact us at

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