Paula Davis-Laack is a stress and resilience expert. An entrepreneur, writer, and trainer, her techniques have been taught to thousands of professionals, including 25,000 members of the US Army and their families.
Burning out during her final year of Law Practice, she speaks from experience. Now, Paula teaches burnout prevention and resilience building tactics through the Stress & Resilience Institute, and to readers of Forbes, Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.
Stress is something that most recruiters are accustomed to managing. It’s as prominent in the office as core values are on the walls. Although because it’s not as visible as the word INTEGRITY splashed a metre wide across the boardroom, it’s naturally harder to spot.
Fortunately, there’s a wealth of resource on how to combat stress in the workplace, much of which we publish at Hunted. You’ll find links to the best of these at the end of this article.
Davis-Laack identifies seven states of mind that “interfere with your mental strength and can undercut your resilience”. Key traits that embody the toppest of billers.
Being tuned in to these is likely the first step towards nipping burnout in the bud, rather than constantly battling against it. Or worse, fixing it after it’s happened. Both will scupper your billings. At best.
What follows is a less an insurance policy, more a hazard perception test, to keep you on the path to the deal bell. And more importantly, to keep your noggin tickety-boo.
The belief that your skillset is intrinsic and unalterable. That what you bring to the table was gifted you at birth. That even your company’s “industry leading L&D program” couldn’t improve how you operate if it’s life depended on it.
A fixed mindset is the natural enemy of flexible thinking, new ideas, and that other great core value: INNOVATION. Paradoxically, having your mindset fixed on constantly innovating can also be a fixed mindset too.
Tough one to admit to, this one. Could it be that denial of a fixed mindset is in itself a fixed mindset? Davis-Laack points at research suggesting that it’s being open to learning that builds resilience and increases performance in times of adversity.
How many times have you hit send on an email and spent the rest of the day mythologising about the recipient’s thought patterns? If recruitment has a hobby, this is it.
What inevitably follows is a full day of jumping to conclusions, futile attempts at mind reading, and a staunch investment of belief in either the black and/or white of a situation, subsequently neglecting those all important grey areas.
Other dangerous and frankly inaccurate thinking traps are believing that everything that goes wrong is all your fault. Or that it’s all someone else’s.
“Resilience requires accuracy, and thinking traps interfere with your ability to think about situations in a fully accurate way”.
Oh look. Something stressful’s happened. If anyone needs me, I’ll be the shivering wreck over by the worst case scenario. Catastrophizing is so me it’s painful. In fact, I’m so good at thinking the worst, I deserve a… (don’t do it Tom) …a catasTROPHY.
It’s something we all do from time to time, and it’s more common when you’re fed up, run down or out of your comfort zone. Especially when you’ve got a point to prove or something you value is on the line. Like your reputation. Or a big chunk of commission.
Are you a glass half full or half empty person? Or are you George Carlin? “I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be”. Turns out your “emotional perspective and outlook on life” may be decided at a genetic level.
Explaining things in a negative way doesn’t just apply to conversations you have with people you know but to your inner monologue as well.
Either way, pessimism has consequences. Depression being one of them. I’m reminded of Mo Gawdat’s ‘Algorithm for Happiness’:
“Happiness is looking at the glass and seeing the truth of the glass. Seeing the half full side and being grateful for it. Seeing the half empty side and saying, can I do anything about it? And if not, can I accept it?”
Forget your billings. Stress can literally kill you.
This basically means low confidence. Which as far as I know isn’t a concept that applies to recruiters. But that’s just the point. Particularly if you believe that excessive or outward displays of confidence are just a smokescreen to hide a genuine lack of it.
Do truly confident people need to make a statement about how confident they are? Unlikely. Although there’s something to be said about faking it until you make it. And displays of confidence can be useful if you’re seeking to inspire the same in others.
But too much with little end product, or little overall improvement, is a bad cycle to get trapped in.
The feeling that you fluke your wins and are somehow not deserving of success. A placement either feels too easy or a promotion apparently materialises out of thin air.
Davis-Laack puts ‘Imposter syndrome’ somewhere between ‘low efficacy’ and “maladaptive perfectionism”: a disassociation with the rewards of your actions if reality doesn’t meet your expectations.
If this isn’t too much an oversimplification, I think it’s when we confuse responsibility with blame. And then accept neither. “If I claim responsibility for the positive things, I’ll have to admit blame for the negative things as well. It makes more sense to avoid any kind of criticism altogether”.
Mark Manson distinguishes blame and responsibility in TSAONGAF: “if you woke up one day and there was a newborn baby on your doorstep, it would not be your fault that baby was put there, but the baby would now be your responsibility”.
He uses the example to highlight how William James experimented with taking responsibility for every single thing that happened to him. He went from being unemployed, suicidal and a failure at almost everything he attempted to “the father of American psychology and one of the most influential philosophers of the past 100 years”.
And he’d probably be a dab hand at BD and all.
How many of these do you experience from time to time? What would happen to your billings if you didn’t?
Overcoming any of these seven mindsets is as easy, or as difficult, as not entertaining them. But being aware of what they are is the first step towards combatting burnout in the long run. Better the devil you know and that.
Just remember that your brain is your most powerful organ. At least that’s what it wants you to think.
The HSE – the governing body responsible for research into occupational risks in the UK – published Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain in 2017.
Employee engagement specialists Perkbox put together The 2018 UK Workplace Stress Survey. Both are eye opening in their own right.
For Hunted content your brain will be grateful for, have a read of these:
iii) How to be happy
The last one in particular is a doozy.
Principal Consultant - Finance at Marshall McAdam
Recruitment Consultant at Just IT Recruitment (JITR)
Senior Consultant - Drinks Sales at New Chapter Consulting
Consultant / Financial Services at Oakleaf Partnership