“Overcoming the Wall”

I want to build off of the last Career Tip I sent you in January where I discussed the importance of being mindful and staying in the present. Continuing my work on being better about mindfulness, I have continued to read, study and practice methods to pace myself this year. However, I still occasionally hit the “wall,” and my Career Tip for this e-mail offers suggestions of what to do when you hit the wall. Notice, I did not say avoid the wall. I do not believe that is possible.

1. When you hit the wall, remember Randy Pausch’s quote from The Last Lecture: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” To me, the wall is a natural filter eliminating those who should not be on the other side. Therefore, when you hit the wall, you have a choice, take action and start climbing, give up altogether and quit, or change the goal and go in a different direction. I encourage you to choose action and start climbing. The first step can be the most challenging. For me, I need to work out in the morning; the workout is not the hard part – it’s the first foot on the floor out of the bed to get started! Climbing the wall can be the same.

2. Sometimes, backing away from the wall and taking a break will give you the necessary energy to climb up and over. For those of you who exercise, you know you have to give your body some rest, and when you come back after the appropriate amount of time, you can lift more, and run further and faster. Backing away from the wall allows you to take a running start at it, giving you the momentum to get up and over. This is why vacations or days off are so important. I hear people brag about not taking all of their vacation days. I personally have had years where I have not taken all my vacation, and I can tell you my family did not want to hear me brag about it. When you do not take the necessary time off, you also not only hurt your well-being, but also those with whom you should be taking time off– children, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, etc. Take your time off. If you can’t get away for a week, then take some three-day weekends and other occasional days off.

I just took this past Friday off and it was one of the best weekends I have had with my children. I sent my wife to San Antonio for the weekend with a friend, and I stayed home with my 4 children. Two of them had friends for a sleepover – we went fishing one morning, had donuts for breakfast, went swimming, and also got up early Sunday and went to Austin to watch my oldest daughter compete in a swim meet. Man! I was busy! However, the time off allowed me to be totally focused on the relationships with my children and provided a lot of “juice” for my batteries.

3. Take time every day to reenergize yourself. You do not have to take vacation or a day off to keep you motivated. Small things also add up. Here are some suggestions I have heard while reading books on the topic or watching TED Talks http://www.ted.com/: Start a journal and include in your journal every day 3 things you are thankful for; exercise; take a 20-minute nap (probably best to do this where people cannot see you!); do something nice for someone else, and it can be as simple as a note of appreciation; when possible, have dinner with your family or spouse (without the TV on or other distractions); and, get the appropriate amount of sleep, which means you need to turn off the TV, stop checking e-mail and looking at the computer earlier than you normally would.

4. Invest in self-development. I am sure Roger Cameron did not think of this quote himself, but he was constantly saying it: “You either grow or you die.” He was telling me I am either developing myself, getting better and growing or I was deteriorating, going backwards. I have found that the more I learn and develop, the more energized I get. I suggest reading business books, biographies, and novels with a good life message. You can also subscribe or follow some great blogs. The list below provides some suggestions:
Michael Hyatt’s “Intentional Leadership” blog at http://michaelhyatt.com/

TED Talks – here are links to a few of my favorites:

John Wooden – Legendary basketball coach, poet and author http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/john_wooden_on_the_difference_between_winning_and_success.html “The Happy Secret to Better Work” by Shawn Achor http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html “Hidden Power of Smiling” by Ron Gutman http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling.html

Recent Books I Read and Suggest: Great by Choice by Jim Collins Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy, Super Bowl Winning Coach True North by Bill George, former Medtronic CEO Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath Crucial Confrontations by Patterson, Grenny McMillan and Switzer The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwarz Any book where John Wooden discusses his Pyramid of Success. Just go to Amazon and search John Wooden.

There are numerous other suggestions of what you can do when you hit the wall. These are some of mine. If you want to share yours, please e-mail me. I want to give credit to Bill Blankschaen’s blog post, “5 Ways to Keep Moving Forward When You Hit a Wall,” written on Michael Hyatt’s blog. This post provides a different approach to the wall, but provided me the inspiration for this Career Tip. You can find the post at http://michaelhyatt.com/5-ways-to-keep-moving-forward-when-you-hit-a-wall.html.

Joel Junker

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