Do You Suffer From Super Hero Syndrome?

Michael O. "Coop" CooperLeadership, Right BrainLeave a Comment

We live in a world of constant pressure and unrealistic expectations.

The super heroes of our youth and the heroes in the media today have warped our sense of what is realistic and what is humanly possible.

While it's sometimes difficult for us to admit that we're human, many people I work with have difficulty understanding why they overwork.

Think about it...what does your typical week look like? Or consider just one day?

If you're like many committed entrepreneurs who started a business because they were sick of the daily corporate grind and wanted to have freedom and control over their schedule, you probably...

  • have one, two, three, (four??) cups of coffee to get going in the morning...I'm so glad I quit coffee years ago! : )
  • check your email on your smart phone or tablet, perhaps before you even got out of bed...
  • go to the office and are immediately immersed in an overwhelming to do list, figuring out what to do because someone didn't finish their part of a project on time, putting out a couple of fires, dealing with an angry or frustrated partner or employee, looking at your to do list again - woefully, this time...
  • grab lunch on the go or eat at your desk, and then it all starts over again for the afternoon...
  • rather than leave at a reasonable hour, you stay late (maybe very late) to focus on your work that you couldn't get to because you were helping everyone else do their work...
  • when you do make it home, you probably check your email again, eat or drink something to relax from the day, then have trouble sleeping because there are lots of thoughts running through your mind about all the things you need to focus on tomorrow...

Any of this sound familiar?

This the classic pattern of an entrepreneur with Super Hero Syndrome.

For right brain entrepreneurs, we get an extra dose of Super Hero Syndrome. That's because our brains complicate things further because we have difficulty prioritizing, estimating how much time it will take to do something, and we don't think to consider what is already on our to do list before we commit to something else. (This isn't criticism. It's an acknowledgement of how your brain naturally organizes and processes information.)

When you're working these kinds of hours - as admirable and necessary as you may think it is - you are actually putting your business at risk, even while you think you are making progress. As a business owner, you need time to recharge. But when you are this busy for this amount of time, you put yourself at physical risk of adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, obesity, colds, and a multitude of other health issues. All of these put your business - and your life - at risk.

If you are overworking, you have engaged the amygdala, a very small reptilian part of your brain that regulates the fight, flight, or conserve response.

But, in today's hyper competitive marketplace it's more important to be strategic than at any other time in history. If you aren't being strategic...well,  you know what happens.

But, when your amygdala is engaged, you literally cannot be strategic. When you are in the fight, flight, or conserve mode of operating, you have an extraordinarily limited field of vision. At this point you aren't thinking long term. You're thinking "How can I make it through this crisis?"

Bottom line, you can't see opportunities, and definitely not the richest, most effective ones. And you can't develop the distance from your business to gain a strategic viewpoint or new insights.

All this is the result of overworking. And it's a self-perpetuating system.

If you take a moment to be honest with yourself, you know that's true.

It's time to save yourself from Super Hero Syndrome.

Here's how:

  • Identify what it takes you to recharge - and then schedule it. It might mean yoga, 8 hours of sleep, eating local, organic produce in your diet. Or a combination of all these. (This is just an example, and it's what saved me from my own Super Hero Syndrome.)
  • Get clear on the results you want and why you want them. Truthfully determine if they are essential to your business success and personal happiness.
  • Set very clear boundaries around your time to work, play, and rest.

So what are your Super Hero tendencies? We all have them, and sharing this in the comments below isn't a sign of weakness. Sharing this out loud, or publicly, is actually part of the process of Super Hero Syndrome Recovery.

In the next blog post, I'm going to talk about the brain function, beliefs, and specific habits that create this problem.

Be sure to join our free teleclass on Oct.  24, 2013, "Save Yourself From Super Hero Syndrome - Why You're Overworked and What to Do About It".

So, really...what makes you think you're a Super Hero?

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