I’m stuck and frustrated.   I’ve always been decisive with a well-earned reputation for knowing the right direction to take in any circumstances.  Even during difficult business conditions, I was the always the one who was cool and collected while other leaders showed panic.  But lately, it’s taking me much longer, sometimes too long, to make decisions. Then, when I finally do, I second-guess myself.  Worse, my organization is now paying the price for my inaction.  Although I have stepped up my hours at the job, my productivity isn’t showing any signs of improvement. I’m not sleeping well either.  Any suggestions?

Larry in Philadelphia

And here’s one more:

I am a vice president with a large, successful media company. My wife was furloughed 2 months ago from a boutique marketing agency. That action made me even more grateful to be working in an organization that’s fairly “recession proof”. However, about 4 or 5 weeks after she was sent home, I noticed that I’d become a bit less decisive. Decisions or direction for my team are suddenly less clear. In meetings with my peers and boss, I don’t seem to have the clarity that I’ve always had and I find my mind wandering during conversations and debates. This is not who I am.  I want to be able to re-focus and move forward like I once did. Have you run into this before?

Chris in Los Angeles

Based on the information you’ve given me, guys, I’d say that both of you are being impacted by stress.  This year, most of the people who’ve contacted me about coaching reported similar characteristics.  Although stress affects most people at some point, the reasons behind it are not always clear.

Larry, you noted that you’ve stepped up your hours at work and aren’t sleeping soundly at this stage.  Those two things are probably tied together. And, the thing about a lack of sleep is that it can start building on itself.  As a Wellness Adviser to Tempur-Pedic, I see research on this issue, and the sad fact is that over 40% of people say that they are now getting less sleep than a year ago. A similar percentage says they’ve actually given up trying to get a good night’s sleep. Without routine and sound sleep, your body, your mind, and your ability to be fully effective can go downhill quickly. You can become more emotional and less rationale in your decision-making.  If this sounds like you, I recommend that you address this ASAP or it’ll get worse.

Chris, you should know that this economy – combined with all the news that’s playing 24 hours a day – has significantly increased the number of people feeling the affects of stress. With your wife’s layoff, it could be that you’re more conscious of the fact that nobody is “bulletproof” and consequently, the impact of each of your decisions is looming large in the back of your mind. Consider the example of a golfer who, suddenly aware of the importance of each swing, starts over-thinking his approach and then has results like a duffer.

You probably need to regain your business Zen and quit over-thinking your decisions. To help, you could start keeping a bottle of purple pills in your top-left hand drawer, but before that, check out this free audio download available at Business Success  Once you’re back to being clear-headed, it’s likely that you’ll become more focused and action-oriented.

Final note: Although stress has become almost commonplace, it is a big deal that requires care. It’s insidious. Left alone it can cause a lot of damage to you personally and professionally before you even realize what’s happening. To learn more about it, find some literature. Stress Management for Dummies may work.  If you think you may be stressed out, don’t hesitate to seek help via a doctor, therapist, religious counselor, psychologist, coach – whatever works for you.  Otherwise it may fester and worsen.  And your performance will deteriorate, further putting you in jeopardy.


Leadership Coach