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4 Slippery Slopes to Avoid: An Executive’s Secret to Sleeping

Written by Terri Wallin

Are problems keeping you awake? Whether you dismiss, rationalize or positive-think them away those pesky problems show up just when you’re trying to go to sleep, just like your neighbor’s barking dog. While the conscious mind tries to ignore problems the unconscious mind is frustratingly fixated upon them, hosting a raucous game-show of contestant scenarios to keep the problem at bay or expunge it altogether.   The result is a lost night’s sleep and rheumy, blood-shot eyes the next morning.

Slippery Slope_Avoid and Sleep_ 123rf.com 17147745_ml (2)Solving problems is part of every executive’s job description. Problems range from minor annoyance to total melt-down.   They can be maddeningly repetitive or totally out of the box. Executive should endeavor to fix problems permanently but Band-Aid solutions can look very appealing for leaders looking for a quick fix.   Unfortunately Band-Aids have a nasty tendency to fall off just before quitting time, a weekend or vacation. The end-result is a night or possibly many nights sacrificed on the altar of worry. The question is, how does an executive build problem solving know-how into their organization so they are not obsessing about the problem in the wee hours of the morning?

First of all, be honest with yourself and ask yourself tough questions, such as:

  1. Do you tend to be the sole problem solver or do you engage others to take lead?
  2. Are you an effective problem solver or do similar organizational problems recur?
  3. Do you plan ahead or do you tend to procrastinate problem solving or work?
  4. Do you seem to rerun tapes of difficult issues, conversations or problems when you leave for the day? Can you let things go?

Depending on how the above questions are answered, any one of them gives you adequate rationale for staying awake indefinitely. What’s the answer? For starters, avoid the following slippery slopes…

  1. Don’t fall prey to the notion that you are the sole problem solver in your organization or the only one that makes good decisions. If you do, you will be the only problem solver. No matter how big your organization is, if you have more than yourself employed, problem solving needs to be shared. If someone else doesn’t make the same decisions as you, either help them learn how you make decisions or let them make a decision and coach them afterward to increase skills in future decision making. Remember there are many solutions to a problem and each can be just as effective.
  1. Don’t be lulled to sleep, no pun intended, by repetitive problems. Sometimes repetitive problems are the key to helping your organization come up with permanent solutions. Repetitive problems showcase weaknesses in an executives’ skill-set and pain drives change. It’s important to get to the root cause of a problem or expect recurrences.
  1. Procrastination is the fifth column for problems. “I’ll get to it eventually” is the lodestar for sleepless executives. Procrastination is often fear-inspired; the outcome of problem solving is not always a sure bet. Sometimes problems do go away but most fester and metastasize.   Most often it is best to deal with problems as they occur or allocate a specific time/place to do it.
  1. Financial issues are the major domo of stress and lost sleep. Proactive business planning is important for personal as well as business health. Executives need to have strategies in place for continued product and service development and curbing unnecessary expenses.
  1. Don’t be enticed to replay memories of difficult issues, problems or conversations from the past. Learn to give yourself a few minutes to determine why the memories are coming back. Is there a haunting familiarity to a current problem or is it simply one of those “I should have done this or that” late night reflections that steal countless hours of sleep. The past is your personal library and libraries close at night.

Problems come and go. Paying attention to how you handle those impacts your business and your quality of life. Avoid the slippery slopes and sleep!

Do executives have problems with sleep deprivation as well as getting to sleep? Find out in the next blog!

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