curse of the strong

So can one have balance and still be at the top of their profession?

My answer is yes they can but it requires effort and a self-awareness that is well developed or the likely hood is that a person at the top of their profession who becomes out of balance will find that it has a detrimental effect on their well being. 

 It is interesting that research into depression shows that people who are talented suffer the most. This is because they do not see that there is a problem and continue out of balance until they struggle and become ill.  Generally this is because they are the type of person who is reliable, diligent, strong conscience, strong sense of responsibility, a tendency to focus on others before themselves, sensitive, vulnerable to criticism, self esteem is determined on the evaluation of others.  Interesting isn’t it that the people who really suffer are generally the strong. An excellent book to read on this subject is The Curse of the Strong by Tim Cantopher (isbn 978-0-85969-974-7).

 I am going to continue on the above theme in my book which will also look at the ability to understand yourself and understand what balance means to you and what to do when you are out of balance.

 The time in Italy was outstanding and I improved my understanding of the Italian language (with some very forgiving Italians). We stayed in a villa in Puglia and met some very nice people who have emigrated to Italy from England.  I have always thought it would be nice to have a place in Spain/France/Italy but my time there brought home the fact that I would still need to work and also be integrated into the local community at the earliest opportunity.  In the case of staying in Puglia this would have been accelerated because I trained with a number of Italians in the local gymnasium and by the end of the week they let me take a coaching session.  Franco thanks once again.

 The week has started with a bang, lots of projects on the go including one on carbon reduction which could be an international project.  On Sunday I looked at an area in Stafford where I am going to take a group on outside activities over a two day period.  This will also involve the team building their own shelters and staying out overnight.

 Monday was spent coaching with a number of groups over the telephone. I have now done a number of coaching session by phone and the response/effect has been good but I still prefer to be alongside people when coaching.

 Tuesday was running a team through a crisis leadership programme for later in the year, this will involve a series of exercises to test the command and control systems of an entire organisation.  It will also be a live play exercise, which will mean we react to their decision making whether that is good or bad.  It will certainly allow them to understand where they are after two years of preparing people to operate at a high level of performance.  I love live play exercises because it forces people to act as if the training is for real because they can’t pre-empt the ending.

The afternoon of Tuesday was spent working with another talented CEO who has realised the need to change an entire organisation and introduce an excellent programme of development that will have international acclaim in the near future. I will be commenting on this throughout the year so we will see how successful this approach actually is.

Wednesday was spent coaching another talented executive and his daughter. Both are in a similar position of development in an interesting way.  The daughter is looking to her future and now making her own decision not those she feels she should make because of others and her father is now redefining his own future with the same hunger as his daughter.  It was an invigorating day for me to work with them both. I then had another four meetings on various projects two of which have an international flavour and much potential. The only blot on the week was an idiot in a road rage tantrum in the middle of London blocking off a road an annoying a number of others.  I was going to ignore it and wait for it to pass until he was abusive to other people when I got a little cross.  A little diplomacy and being 6 ft 2 helped to resolve the situation.  Although I was a little cross I reacted, sometimes it is hard to control that genetic primeval coding.

2 thoughts on “curse of the strong

  1. Floyd
    I like the analogy that Dr Cantopher uses of depression as the body’s way of blowing a fuse. I remember a while ago profiling a world champion who suffered from ME or a version thereof. – This was an individual who had pushed themselves to the physical limit and life went out of balance. The comeback story was impressive and was essentially about putting balance back in lfe, through a social support structure.

    I’m not as sure about the assertion that the people who are the ‘most talented ‘ (unless they’re accountants) suffer depression the most. – I was reading a book by James Michener on Sport. It was written years ago and he went on the trail of top athletes including following Don Budge (ex Tennis player) around. Contrary to the myths he tended to find a slightly different situation than painted by the press articles’ written by frustrated young intellectualls who hope that the agencies of moral compensation see to it that the superjocks fall on their faces.’ He found that was generally not the case and top athletes were in the main remarkably well adjusted in later life. That’s what I have observed to and diligent (except in training ) a tendency to focus on others before themselves (though swimming and the arts is different here) reliable (unless a goalkeeper or World champ sommelier) are not the words I would apply. Generally they are not sensitive or vulnerable to criticism in fact they are receptive. Above all they are optimistic. As an aside I have also come across a subtle distinction between people whose excessive self belief is a source of their success and other champions with remarkable humility,self awareness, and political awareness. Those with excessive self belief are a bit like serial entrepreneurs and you can see their careers and in some cases lives are one long Sisyphus struggle. In such cases crisis thyrough external events have been remarkable catalyst of change

    You raise an interesting question in my mind about balance and harmony and how they relate. – I’ve just progressed up a level in my profiling to National coaches and CEO’s and also got a couple of World Champ rowers you/we might be able to help maximise their potential rather than burn themselves ot before 2012.

    You’ll have to share more about the road rage- what did you say/do that resolved the situation. Since you rarely get cross you must have been cross.

    Richard Cross

    • Richard, thank you for this comment, I really appreciate it and I agree that a lot of people at the top of their game do find balance because they are more self aware as a result of their activities/success and failures and have learnt to find the balance. However I have also come across a lot of people that do struggle to find balance in a busy demanding world. This is why I think understanding what balance actually is and being given tools to deal with it, is vitally important. The road rage incident I will tell you about when we find time for coffee. Lets get together late August/early Sept as I am away for awhile. Kindest Regard Floyd.

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