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Overwhelmed - Articles |

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I frequently converse with ministers and business leaders who are overwhelmed. They need help and I have solutions. I am good at what I do. However, all too often my attempts to help prove futile because leaders are notorious for not allowing themselves to see beyond assumed responsibilities and circumstances. They have problems focusing. For some it might be their Attention Deficit Disorder kicking in, and for others it is simply personal neglect. Just as a mechanic’s car often needs the most repair, and a plumber’s house needs a leaky faucet fixed, leaders seem to avoid personal changes of routine and lifestyle.

Sadly this is all too common. Many leaders assume roles and responsibilities they should not assume and therefore settle for a constant state of chaos and mediocrity. Numerous potential problems arise when a leader reaches a saturation point but refuses assistance and is unwilling to change habits.

I want to highlight a five of the potential problems and emphasize a few solutions for each.

The first potential problem: Addiction to adrenaline. Workaholics get used to the adrenaline they feel when meeting certain goals or deadlines. Many leaders develop a sense of pride at being busy; often boasting whenever their schedule hits overload because it feeds their false ego of self-importance. They have a hard time saying “no” to new responsibilities.

The intensity one feels when overwhelmed develops stress. This affects the quality of their relationships. Stressed leaders can become very controlling, territorial, moody, and sharp with their reactions to others. Stress also has negative affects on health in the long term.

Depression often sets in when someone who is addicted to adrenaline attempts to slow down or relax. Time with God, loved ones, and for personal development tends to be neglected or placed on the backburner. Those things simply aren’t the leader’s priority, and that is a big part of the problem.

Suggested solutions include:

  • Establish a maximum number of hours to focus on work each day.
  • Refuse to take work home with you.
  • If an extra request for you to do something means you cannot accomplish it without adding to your maximum allotted workday hours then say “no” to the request.
  • Schedule time off on a regular basis.

The second potential problem: Burnout. The body, mind and emotions are designed for a balance of work and rest. Time must be made for both. Burnout sneaks up on you, and when it comes it can be very difficult to conquer.

Burnout produces a cacophony of emotions. One might develop a sense of guilt, anger or regret. These are hard to overcome when one is in a state of burnout.

Suggested solutions include:

  • Recognizing and admitting that burnout is real and it needs to be eliminated.
  • Develop an exercise plan in combination with proper diet and rest.
  • Plan occasional getaways with those you love. These do not have to be expensive but they should be meaningful.
  • Learn to back away from the workload. It will be there when you return.

The third potential problem: Damage to yourself and those who love you. It has been said that when people near the end of their life they never say, “I wish I had spent more time at work”. Unfortunately when you refuse to be sensible and balanced about work the collateral damage to your family and close relations can be devastating.

Spouses and children are often hurt and damaged because they believe you love your work or your church family more than you love them. Many of the dysfunctions in a leader’s home arise because the leader has neglected those at home. All to often a leader’s spouse or children develop resentment or bitterness brought forth by a sense of abandonment.

I have stood beside many leaders who faced their last years feeling abandoned by many whom they had given themselves to serve, while battling guilt for abandoning the very family that ended up being with them after all . . . in the end.

Suggested solutions include:

  • Make time for meaningful conversations with those you love on a frequent and regular basis.
  • Be involved in the outside activities of those you love.
  • Learn to say “yes” to your family and “no” to others.
  • Do not cancel promised plans with your family when others call and ask for your time.
  • Celebrate accomplishments with those you love.
  • Help each other establish goals and encourage each to attain them.
  • Hold regular and consistent family devotions.

The fourth potential problem: Doing everything yourself prevents God from manifesting His capability to provide. Who needs God when you do everything for yourself? Why would God have to provide assistance when you won’t let Him? When God sends others to help you why do you refuse their offer? Why haven’t you tapped into the skills and talents of those around you?

Suggested solutions include:

  • Learn the arts of delegation and facilitation.
  • Study teamwork and become a team builder.
  • Progress in leadership styles as God adds people around you.
  • Match strengths and weaknesses to the tasks at and.
  • Learn to wait on God’s timing and provision.
  • Quit trying to play God and spend more time seeking after God.

The fifth potential problem: The neglect of personal care and leadership development.Many of the problems a leader faces today cannot be overcome unless new skills are acquired. Leaders who are too busy to take time for professional development should not remain in a leadership position.

Certain aspects of leadership are ageless, but others are not. If you insist on writing with a quill and parchment, riding to meetings on your horse, and insisting on using the old overhead projector, you will disconnect with people who live in the modern era.

Although it is permissible to stay grounded, it is never permissible to become irrelevant. The best leaders are never stagnant.

Suggested solutions include:

  • Always be involved in some form of focused study and development.
  • Read good materials outside of your sphere of knowledge and experience.
  • Connect to a mentor with the experience and skill sets to help steer you in the right directions.
  • Be accountable to others (perhaps a mentor).
  • Schedule a portion of your workweek for professional development and stick to it religiously.
  • Commit time and resources to personal and professional advancement.