How Heavy is the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders? Gravity of leadership Craig Johns

How Heavy is the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders?

How Heavy is the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders?

How Heavy is the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders?

By Craig Johns

Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders so heavy it has flattened you? You feel paralysed by the burden, exhausted by the piling up of tasks and overwhelmed by the excess pressure of responsibility. 

It is as though the energy is being sucked out of you and your feet are being swept out from underneath you. 

Why is it that leaders feel they need to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders? 

Is it the overwhelming pressure to perform because one has great responsibilities? Maybe it’s a fixation on problems because of actions that have occurred in the past or worry about what might happen in the future? Could it be that the leaders own internal expectations or the external expectations of stakeholders are unrealistic and combined are too much to handle? Or is it because of a fear of failing, fear of being found out, fear of letting the team/company down or even the fear of disappointing someone?

WEIGHT OF YOUR WORLD

One of the three aspects of understanding your Gravity of Leadership is the heaviness of the weight of responsibility you carry. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of “carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders” is to feel much pressure because one has great responsibilities. Therefore the weight of the world on your shoulders could be any one of a number of the possibilities noted above. 

Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, can overwhelm even the most experienced leaders. As Uncle Ben famously articulated in the 2002 movie, Amazing Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility”. 

The phrase “having the weight of the world on your shoulders” has its origin from Greek Mythology in which Zeus, the king of all gods in the Olympus, made Atlas carry the heavens to separate it from earth where a group of people called the Titans were fighting the Olympians in order to put a stop the clashes.

Taking on a leadership role is like a parent watching a baby. You can’t take your eye off them, you are sensitive to every sound they make, you are consumed by everything in that baby’s life and it’s like nothing else in the world matters. In many ways you have no choice as the baby can die if you’re not attending to it. It is the same as leading a company, coaching a team or guiding a community, if you take your finger off the pulse it might stop. The question is how much pressure does your finger need to apply to the pulse?

After observing both parents and leaders during my lifetime, there are three commonalities which result in the weight of the world on your shoulders, becoming ineffective and at times quite detrimental to your performance. 

CONTROL - TREAT LEADERSHIP LIKE HAVING A THIRD BABY Gravity of Leadership Craig Johns

CONTROL – TREAT LEADERSHIP LIKE HAVING A THIRD BABY

When you see a parent with their first born child they tend to focus their entire attention on the child, protect them from hurting themselves, try and do everything perfectly, be there every step of the way, caught up in what they or you have just done, am I doing the right thing, fast-track their growth and how it will affect them in the future, and worry about protecting them from every small possibility that could happen in the future. 

Does this sound familiar to you? It’s called Control. You are likely to have seen this with first time leaders and even leaders when they start out in a new role or with a new team. This level of control will eventually restrict you, inhibit growth and become overbearing for the team members.  

Ben Horowitz, author of what you do is who you are and the hard things about the hard things, once said, “As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby… I woke up every two hours and cried.” Have you been in a leadership role when every aspect of the company or team you are leading consumes your mind 24/7 and begins to weigh you down or hold you back from being at your best?

As people mature into a leadership role or have experienced a few different leadership roles, we tend to see a shift in how they lead and what consumes their mind. They start to relinquish control and they notice their company or team starts to perform better. The high performing leaders understand what is important, where to focus their attention and what they can let go of. 

As a leader you must treat your company or team like it’s your third baby, not your first. Have you noticed by the time a parent has their third baby they are less controlling, are more relaxed, allow the baby to explore and learn at their own pace, spend less time worrying, focus only on what is really important and are better able to spread their time across more aspects of their life. 

Great leaders empower rather than control, manage their own and teams energy wisely, remove unnecessary expectations and focus their attention in areas that make a difference. 

RESPONSIBILITY - LEAD LIKE A MONK Gravity of Leadership Craig Johns

RESPONSIBILITY – LEAD LIKE A MONK

When you see or hear of a monk, what is the picture that forms in your mind? For me it is a calm, caring, unhurried, centered and under control person who works with others for the collective good of people. They use their energy, expectations and emotions wisely through shared responsibility and collaboration. 

Compare this to a poor leader who seems hurried, stressed, self-centered, over-controlling who is only focused on numbers, output and how they look. It is as if they intentionally try to make their life, and those they lead, harder. Any mistake or question becomes a burden and adds weight to their responsibility. 

Effective leadership is not just about taking responsibility, it’s more about how we carry and distribute it. 

Monks have a very clever way of sharing the responsibility load so that not one person carries all the weight of expectations, duties and requirements. They view responsibility as an act of service. Service to the community. They view their responsibilities as serious, rather than burdensome. 

As a leader, view responsibility in a servant leadership lens. Remove the burden of unnecessary responsibilities, requirements and expectations. Allow each person to assume a level of responsibility that serves them, serves the team and if working in a company serves the client. Shift your attention to how can we together carry the weight of responsibility of the entire team, company or community? 

FAILURE - ITS NOT ABOUT ADDING MORE WEIGHT Gravity of Leadership Craig Johns

FAILURE – ITS NOT ABOUT ADDING MORE WEIGHT 

If you have ever been to a gym or you have watched weightlifting on TV you will know what happens when you add too much weight to a squat bar, dumbbell or exercise machine. At some point you fail to lift the weight, something breaks or it comes crashing down on you. 

Adding more tasks, expectations or level of responsibilities at some point will lead to Failure as a leader. Maybe you get sick, you react negatively or spread yourself too thin. 

When it comes to carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, you have control over how heavy the weight is. There is never a time where there is no weight and like going to the gym you always need some weight to grow and perform better. You have full control over the expectations you set on yourself, how many tasks you take on, how you manage your energy and where you focus your attention. 

Yes, the external expectations of stakeholders can weigh you down, however you can still control how to manage that expectation internally. How can you reframe the expectation to ensure it doesn’t become burdensome?

Its your responsibility Gravity of Leadership Craig Johns

IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Controlling the controllables is important, but it is even more important to know how much control and where to relinquish control so the team or company can thrive. Focus on what aspects are important to have your finger on the pulse and where to let go, just like a parent does each time they have another baby.

It’s your responsibility to share the responsibility among the team as you will not be able to hold the weight of the world on your shoulder if you allow it to get too heavy. How can you lead like a monk and focus on collective responsibility without burden?

Be present and attentive to how much weight you have applied and when it’s a good idea to remove the weight or move it to someone else’s shoulders in your team or company. 

Jim Maxwell famously said, “everything rises and falls on leadership”. As a leader it is important that you manage the energy, expectations and emotions to ensure the whole team rises rather than falls with the weight of responsibility.

I will leave you with the challenge to lighten the weight of the world on your shoulders. What will be the first thing you take off?

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Why Curiosity Is So Important

WHY CURIOSITY IS SO IMPORTANT

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Why CURIOSITY IS SO IMPORTANT

By Craig Johns

Curiosity leads to breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions. So why do we see companies stifling curiosity in the workplace?

It is normal for humans to seek new information and experiences. By cultivating curiosity and the promotion of exploring novel possibilities throughout a company, employees will think deeper and more rationally about decisions.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. 

ALBERT EINSTEIN

If we step back in time, when we were a child, we had an insatiable need to explore and understand the world around us. We were not afraid to challenge the status quo by asking lots of questions, tasting things we probably shouldn’t or doing something for the first time, without the worry of whether we were wrong or offending anyone.

As we grew older we become more self-conscious, try to appear more confident and show that we know what we are doing. By the time we arrive as adults, our curiosity is quite suppressed as fear of being judged and not living up to other people’s expectations creeps in.

The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”

UNKNOWN

Curiosity leads to creativity and innovation, which is important for you and your company to adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures. It creates an environment that inspires employees to improve their collaborative relationships, trust and more respect of their leader.

Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that curiosity will increase risk and inefficiency. They stumble with the conundrum faced between the now and the future. How do we meet budget, sales targets, membership numbers and deadlines, when we know that we need to allow time where employees have the freedom to create new products, services, processes and business lines?

“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive with those who are merely going through the motions. 

TOM ROBBINS

Finding the balance of exploration versus efficiency is an important component of a leader. Employees, who are under pressure to complete tasks quickly, tend to avoid asking questions about how they can improve their output and enhance the possible outcomes. When we question the status quo, we may not always produce useful information or solutions, but we also may prevent a decision being made that is catastrophic for your role and your company.

We perform better when we are curious because we view the tough situations more creatively. High performing employees, who are curious, seek more information from their colleagues, which helps improve the work that they do. They perform better because information is openly shared and they listen more carefully. New ideas are created, job satisfaction is improved, motivation increases and innovation flourishes as curiosity leads to a high performance environment.

“Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths. 

WALT DISNEY

The power of solving problems together and looking at suitable alternatives, brings teams closer together. It allows employees to step into another employees shoes, look at it from another perspective and allows them to work together in a more effective manner.

How will you spark new ideas, rather than killing the flame, today?

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Beyond The Comfort Zone Link
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Beyond The Comfort Zone

BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

Beyond The Comfort Zone

BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

By Craig Johns

A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Successful people have the unique ability to perform under high levels of pressure. Pressure comes from internal and external expectations, and as the stakes rise, fear grows. Being able to deal with fear and the uncomfortable feelings that are associated, you have to be better prepared to control your state of mind.

Why do we feel uncomfortable? That uncomfortable feeling comes from going into a place where you have never been before. You are making a change and disrupting the way your mind and body are used to doing something. It might be doing something for the first time or doing something you haven’t done for a while. It could be doing something you are used to, but the conditions or parameters have changed.

When you first experience a struggle and you feel uncomfortable, you start to second-guess yourself. Remember nothing in life comes easy and the greatest satisfaction is the result of overcoming something that takes us out of our comfort zone and takes us to a whole new level. You need a mindset of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is the price of progression.

“If you want something in life that you have never had, you will have to do something that you have never done.

Here are some ways to take you beyond the comfort zone:

SHOW UP

You will feel most uncomfortable when you take the first step and make a decision to start. That commitment to get off the start-line means the battle is half done. Most great ideas never get started, but once you have taken the first step, the real work begins. You made a choice, a commitment, and now you need to show up.

ONE STEP IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

Sometimes your actions don’t go to plan. You may not be seeing results, the progress is slow, and you are being told that it won’t work or self-doubt is kicking in. This is the point where everyone considers giving up and start asking themselves, “why am I doing this?”. At this point you have to be brave and be ready to answer honestly. Your purpose needs to be crystal clear, because this is when the true battle begins and it is the time to shine.

FAKE IT WHILE YOU MAKE IT

Fear kills more dreams than failure, so you have to control the controllable’s and brainwash yourself with lots of positive affirmations and thoughts. Pretend to be confident and visualize how it will look. Preparation and belief are your best friends.

EMBRACE ‘THE SUCK’

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Deal with the adversity, the challenge, the pain, or the uncomfortable feeling by welcoming it with open arms. Make it your friend, as ‘the suck’ is the reason that is going to make you better. You are building your mental and physical toughness, which leads to greater levels of resilience.

SURROUND YOURSELF

Create a team and environment that supports the challenge. An environment that is positive and provides you with the feedback required to deal with the positive and negative thoughts, and perceived obstacles to achieve your goal.

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

To continually extend the boundaries of what you thought was possible, you need to understand how you overcome uncomfortable experiences in the past. Use your understandings to build your confidence. Start to notice the patterns of your thoughts and record them. Record the characteristics of your fears, such as when does it appear, where does your mind wander, how do you cope with it and how you construct your intentions to deal with it. Create an internal culture of reveling in achievement and understanding how you deal with situations.

REPETITION

Your mind and body are comfortable with familiarity. The more you perform in an uncomfortable state, the more confidence you will develop. It is a mindset you have to develop, so you can allow your thoughts and emotions to adapt and grow.

TAKE ACTION

What rituals and behaviors can you create, so that each day you feel more comfortable with the uncomfortable? Once you have developed these actions, you need to be patient and be prepared for the long-game, as it will take some to become an automatic part of your life. Over time you will feel more confident, empowered and prepared to face the uncomfortable more often. The result of this process is a life of growth, excitement and success.

Are you ready to go beyond the comfort zone?

DOWNLOAD

To learn more about proactively planning your recovery and scheduling your energy, please DOWNLOAD the Break the CEO Code Whitepaper

READ MORE ARTICLES

High Performers Cultivate More Powerful Traits Link
Rockstar of Efficiency Link
Are You Living Link
People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
It’s All About Trust Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link

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