Post by Tanya Maslach, contributing Women On Business writer
Carl Jung wrote once that “Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.” Being that Jung was a psychiatrist, I presume he meant mental health. And I have to agree with the guy.
Our problem, as humans, is that we really take our physical (and mental) health for granted. Remember the last time you had a stomach virus or flu so bad you couldn’t even crawl out of bed (to make it to the bathroom or medicine cabinet)? Now, as you sit here and read this, presumably without said flu, you might recall the desperation and ugliness of those sweaty, weak and morbid five days in bed — but you could easily jump out of your chair and go grab Thai for dinner and forget about all this sickness talk.
This phenomenon is somewhat like what I hear most triathletes say after finishing 140 miles of swimming, biking and running; “Where’s the registration table? I want to do this race next year again!” The pain, the swollen ankles, blistering feet, cramps and sunburn are already forgotten. (And the real pain hasn’t even really kicked in yet!)
I write this as I experience yet another sport-related injury and wallow in the self-pity I allow myself for 24 hours after said injury.
And what does all this have to do with business anyway?
Breaks in our health, whether due to injury, illness or disease, are our cues to pay attention. Like fractures in our business’s strategic plans, big client account departures, or plagues of anxiety and worry during economic downturns, we should allow ourselves the moments to grieve, re-group (collectively or solo) and lick our wounds. But after a period of time, even as we’re sick and bruised, we should be alert and looking for opportunities to learn. Clear the cobwebs of self-pity, doubt and temporary loss of confidence – they fog your vision and clog your critical listening skills. Look here … if you’re down, you’re not out. You’re just resting. The competition doesn’t know you’re sick, injured, or otherwise out of commission. You’re taking a break. You’re figuring out a new action plan. You’re re-strategizing. You’re focusing. And if a blip on the scale was needed for that focus to happen, then so be it. Re-tool the plan.
Tiger Woods was out playing for the first time in eight months last weekend. The guy won the US Open in June 2008 (with what could be mildly classified as a “bum knee”) and took time off to get healthy. I’m sure Tiger wasn’t the most enjoyable guy to be around for awhile. But an athlete like Tiger focuses. We’ve seen it on the golf course, and that level and strength of focus most certainly has been put into his recovery. PGA competitors are wise to this I’m sure….and have reason to worry.
Like athletes, business leaders are caught off guard by myriad of ‘injuries’ that distract and distress their plans for greatness. But in most cases, they are simply alarms to tell us to pay attention – if only we’ll listen to them.
I’m not yet healed. I’ve added a new injury to the mix. But in my down time, is when I know my little idea-factory in my cranium is on overdrive and my curiosity about injury prevention and business strategy peaks.
….. Always looking, listening and trying to find the right way to heal and be prepared to make bigger strides, in sport and business, for when I get better….
Onward and upward!