by Joe Mendel –
Ok, so tell me that I’m not the only one this happens to. It is 3AM and I am wide awake, and work is running through my mind. I have my iPhone near me and available to take notes when I often do. But this time it is a bit different as there is a blend of personal thoughts intermixed with work thoughts. And, I have this “earworm” tune invading my thoughts and echoing off the walls of a half-awake mind while thinking about some transformational work concepts. According to a Korn Ferry Study stress causes sleep deprivation for 66% of American workers.
Thinking about work often means stressing about work
These thoughts can keep us up at night or have us waking up feeling anxious, hours before the alarm clock sounds. And now we have a variant called “coronasomnia” brought on by the anxieties associated with COVID-19. We live in a world full of stresses and performance anxiety. Just look at Simone Biles, the gymnast GOAT (Greatest of all Time) and the mental “twisties” that she dealt with.
On the other hand, the 3AM state offers your mind the time to relax and gain the bandwidth to allow more free and innovative thinking. Without the brain having to continually focus on new, incoming information and stimuli from the world around you, other parts of the brain are free to explore and spur creativity. This is not unlike what scientists call “the incubation period” for your ideas where you may have mulled over a problem all day and finally at the end of the tedious day you get to jump into the shower. The subconscious mind has been working on the problem in the background and the relaxing shower allows your mind to wander and replant the issues into the conscious where the creative process is allowed to take over. Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower: The Science of Creativity (buffer.com)
A relaxed state of mind is absolutely important to be creative
“Why is a relaxed state of mind so important for creative insights? When our minds are at ease–when those alpha waves are rippling through the brain–we’re more likely to direct the spotlight of attention inward, toward that stream of remote associations emanating from the right hemisphere. In contrast, when we are diligently focused, our attention tends to be directed outward, toward the details of the problems we’re trying to solve. While this pattern of attention is necessary when solving problems analytically, it prevents us from detecting the connections that lead to insights. ‘That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers,’ Bhattacharya says. ‘For many people, it’s the most relaxing part of the day.’ It’s not until we’re being massaged by warm water, unable to check our e-mail, that we’re finally able to hear the quiet voices in the backs of our heads telling us about the insight. The answers have been there all along–we just weren’t listening.” – Jonah Lehrer
So back to my 3AM think session with the earworm song:
“Each day on my zoom call I’m nervous as updates fly
I say to myself, you can’t let it get behind
To have a status green is truly a dream come true
Out of all the advisors in the world, progress falls on me
But it’s a digital transformation, runnin’ away with me
It was just the transformation runnin’ away with me”
Transformation means change and change is a huge catalyst for anxiety and stress
We often focus energies on the technologies of digital transformation and the business values. But too often there is little focus on the peripherals that ensure a successful implementation; things like change management, knowledge transfer and worker retooling. These are huge stress and anxiety factors both for the advisor/consultant charged with implementing a successful transformational project as well as the workers who are typically running as fast as they can to continue business-as-usual – while simultaneously advancing competitive advantages and installing new digital solutions and methodologies.
“The fact is that organizations don’t just change because of new systems, processes or new organization structures. They change because the people within the organization adapt and change too. Only when the people within it have made their own personal transitions can an organization truly reap the benefits of change. The challenge in this case is not only to get the systems, processes, and structures right, but also to help and support people through these individual transitions. The shift can sometimes be intensely traumatic and involve loss of power and prestige and even employment. Fear and tension created during the shift cause individuals to resist and reject the idea of change in every possible way. It is the responsibility of the management in such a situation to guide and prepare their employees for the change and do every possible thing to make the transition easy. Leadership plays a very important role during change implementation. Whenever the work force encounters change it cause stress and tension among them.” EMPLOYEE STRESS PHASES ASSOCIATED WITH CHANGE MANAGEMENT (ijoart.org)
Out of all the advisors in the world, progress falls on me…
It’s Digital Transformation…..
We tend to react to change in four main stages:
- Shock and disorientation.
- Anger and other emotional responses.
- Coming to terms with the “new normal.”
- Acceptance and moving forward.
It seems to me that over the past two years, through COVID, many people are spending more time and mental energies within the “shock and disorientation” and “anger and emotional responses” stages. For proof all you need do is read the news every day to see stories of people who have “lost their humanity”. I think that being mired in these states is not healthy and is causing a major roadblock to move to the “new normal” and the “acceptance” stages, not to mention that it could be taking much longer to get to those stages. Transformation is about moving forward, evolving to a proposed new and better state but stress and anxiety are becoming larger cogs in the wheels of progress. It’s not so easy to say “take a chill pill and relax” any more without causing an international incident.
… Runnin’ away with me
My thoughts for financial service organizations are to invest more time in good change management transition efforts and to focus on employee mental health services. Even when change is positive it affects the way we live our daily personal and work lives. Adjustments cause feelings of stress and loss of control. The stress caused by the feeling of loss of control during change cause physical triggers in our bodies to release fight or flight chemicals and hormones. These chemicals in turn initiate elevated heart rates, suppression of the digestive and immune systems and increase blood flow. All could cause mental confusion and insomnia. A good employee is a happy, healthy, and emotionally and professionally satisfied worker. One who contributes to digital transformational evolutionary efforts and the ongoing growth and competitiveness of the organization.
- Accept that in an evolutionary sense the brain does not like uncertainty. Anything uncertain is potentially a threat. People experience more stress from this uncertainty than the change itself.
- Make maintaining employee health a major enterprise-wide initiative and embed it into the corporate DNA
- Incorporate a rigorous change management section into all your project implementations as well as all your digital initiatives. Your least investment could be your most expensive mistake.
- Recognize that the rate of change is accelerating. As the futurist Ray Kurzweil put it in 2001, “that every decade our overall rate of progress was doubling, we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” The Law of Accelerating Returns Will Kill You | Principia Scientific Intl. (principia-scientific.com)
So, it’s around 3:45 now and my work thoughts are still renting space in my head. But I have moved on to a new song, so apologies to the Temptations, (again……)
“Doo doo do (click), Doo doo do (click),
Doo doo do (click), Doo doo do (click)
I’ve got zoom calls, on a cloudy day,
When it’s cold outside, I’ve got no time to play,
I guess, you said. What can make me feel this way.
Updates, talking about updates. Woooooo Whooooo oooooo…”
At RCG, we help Financial Service organizations understand the complexity of remaining viable and competitive in the on-demand economy. We have been successfully solving complex business problems for financial service companies globally since 1974. Our clients rely on us to help them harness the speed of now that drives evolution to the hyper-business age. We know companies struggle to exist in an ecosystem of three simultaneously co-existing states, where the adoption of an evolutionary mitosis process constantly transforms and evolves operational and engagement models. Our engagement model has evolved also to provide the expertise necessary to identify evolutionary solutions and get you from strategy to impact efficiently and with minimal disruption, allowing you to off-load, mitigate and de-risk your most critical initiatives.
We ask questions to solve business problems. We engineer the velocity necessary to create competitive advantage through impactful outcomes. We make your strategy a reality by compressing the time between strategy on paper, to execution, to impact, maximizing returns on investment while creating competitive advantage.
Contact us. We can help you make a difference.