“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” ~ Hank Aaron
Have you ever found yourself in a slump? Do you feel like no matter what you do, there is no passion behind it? Are you going through the motions in your work, hoping no one notices?
We all have those times. With our current situation across the globe we have been locked down and limited in our activity for weeks as I write this article. Maybe you are experiencing a slump in some areas of life and leadership due to the quarantine.
The term slump often relates to athletes. I am sure you’ve seen athletic teams or individual players experience a slump. (Just think, you could be an Arkansas Razorback football fan, we have experienced a slump for 10 years now). Maybe a team has one bad break, and they lose a game. Then they lose the next game because their mind was on the last game. If they are not careful, they begin to hit a slump, not because their opponents beat them but because they beat themselves. Maybe you’ve done the same thing.
How you deal with the slump is a good barometer of your success as a leader.
How do you overcome a slump? Let’s first get to the root cause.
Sickness – Very often, you are in a slump simply because you are not physically up to par. Improper rest has the same effect. You could get mentally sick from not taking care of your mindset and feeding yourself too much negative news or social media. Or, spiritually you are weak from not connecting with your creator and building up your defenses with faith. Physical sickness is often exacerbated by not taking care of these other two critical areas.
Loss – Loss of a loved one, a job, income, a relationship, or something of value to you can trigger a down period, and understandably so. Many are in this position as we speak right now. It is a horrible place to reside.
Unmet expectations – If you are a perfectionist (or report to one) this is a likely culprit. Unmet expectations, whether your own or those put on you by someone else, weigh heavy on the mind. Too much to do and too little time is a common cause for a slump. I often put way too much pressure on myself and create friction instead of momentum.
Money Issues – If your slump comes at the end of every month or when you open a credit card bill, money issues might be your culprit.
Pressure – Pressure comes from many avenues these days – government regulations, changes over which we have no control, work demands, home and family obligations, community responsibilities, and volunteer requests. The more demanding our lives are, the more pressure we feel. The news media and social media influence our fear and creates pressure that we often don’t realize is building.
You may be feeling a combination of these things. The more they accumulate, the lower your passion level will be, and the longer the slump will last.
So how do you get past a slump? How do you get your PASSION back?
Pen. It very simply starts with a pen. Take out a pen and write down everything that is weighing on your mind. My business manager calls this a “Slump Buster List”. David Allen talks about this concept in his book, Getting Things Done. Get things out of your mind and onto paper. You will feel a sense of relief, and you may begin to realize, on seeing them in print, that some of those things are not so bad after all.
Write out a purpose statement for yourself and some values that will lead you to this purpose.
The starting point of all achievement is desire. -- Napoleon Hill
Assess your list. Sort it into groupings – you should see patterns. You may have several items related to work or finances or health. Ask yourself what would resolve each issue or area on your list. If, for instance, debt is looming, write, “I am living debt-free.” This simple affirmation can begin to lift your spirit and give you hope for a better future.
Start with ONE thing. Pick the easiest. It will give you momentum. This is the wisdom behind Dave Ramsey’s program. If debt is one of your slump creators, Dave advocates paying off the smallest debt first. That creates a small victory and begins a snowball effect.
Many of us fail because we focus on the big problem we have or big goals we desire instead of the small steps we need to take to overcome them, whether in life or our leadership with others.
My Daily Compass Tool is a great slump buster to move you to your future.
Stop trying to fix anything that is beyond your control. Are you trying to change someone? Stop. You can’t change a person. You can show them that you care, you can talk with them if they’re doing something wrong, but you cannot change them. They must decide to change themselves. You must BE the change you wish to see in others, but you can’t decide if they change.
Initiate a plan. If health is your issue, plan your strategy. Perhaps it includes getting rest, making a doctor appointment, and losing weight. If it is having that difficult leadership conversation, then don’t just jump into it reactively, create a plan, see the desired result first then deliver. Whatever it is, make a plan and take that first step. It could be that your plan starts with a half-hour nap, a walk, a coaching session with a leadership coach, or any other thing that redirects your tension.
Others. Go to those who are strong in your life. Talk to them. Listen to their advice. Their perspective and ideas may provide solutions you could not see. Their moral support and accountability are priceless. Others will have a different view from where they sit, they will not have the emotion you are currently feeling and can often give us great tips to move forward.
Never give up. You will feel like giving up. You will take two steps forward and one step back… but never give up. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do all that you think you should. Simply pick up the next day where you left off and go as far as you can.
Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. -- Napoleon Hill
Break the SLUMP, identify your PASSION!
What is YOUR first step?