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If You're Always Putting Out Fires....

There are two fundamentally different operating styles: one is reactive and one is proactive. One holds you hostage (and holds those around you hostage as well) and the other can give you freedom and success.

Unfortunately, many of us are operating in the reactive mode, juggling constant interruptions and responding to demanding and unprofitable clients. We surround ourselves with negative people and we thrive on problems. We’re not focused and concentration lasts about ten minutes. In this mode, it is easy to find yourself addicted to adrenaline, meaning that you become accustomed to, or need, crises and deadlines to motivate yourself.

Operating from crisis to crisis becomes an acceptable way of doing business. And because this mode has become so natural to professionals, there is a danger. The danger is falling victim to the idea that there is no way out of this trap. Before we discuss that there definitely IS a way out, let’s talk about the dynamic of adrenaline addiction.

Some of terms you may be using to describe the person who is constantly ‘adrenalized’ are; Type A’s, Hyper, PMS, Busy, Wired, Driven, Intense, Intolerant, Procrastinator/last minute person, Intolerant and Reactive. Others include:

Caffeine rush - although short term can definitely accelerate adrenaline;

Stress - triggered through the burden of performance, over-stimulation and can even be in the background and beyond one’s awareness

Panic - a fear-based reaction to threat.

Adrenaline is a rush; not a threat

Manic — is a chemical imbalance, not adrenaline based.

ADD — Attention Deficient Disorder — those who can’t focus for very long

So what is the benefit to labeling it as an addiction? First and foremost, it is a way to help people understand what’s going on and how serious it can be to you and those around you. It is also a way to unburden the ‘guilt’. Many people think of themselves as procrastinators and beat themselves up for it. Once you understand it’s an addiction and one that you use to motivate yourself with, then you can respond to the challenge and make the necessary changes. If you get angry with someone who is hyper, understanding what the problem is will enable you to become more responsive and perhaps look for the signals of what the real problem is. Knowing how stress effects brain chemistry and how environment, food, drink, even music effects stress can lead you to a new world of understanding. Understanding leads to increased communication, which leads to better relationships, which lead to happier lives and more successful businesses.

There are some upsides to adrenaline addiction as well and some of us just don’t want to give them up. These may be:

  • The ability to get tasks done,

  • Sustained energy (regardless of long term effects),

  • You may feel emotionally and physically ‘up’,

  • Having the ability to focus longer,

  • Ability to tackle long-term goals and

  • Have the feeling of being in control.

  • Become a great problem solver

  • And you tend to take on more than you can easily handle — simply because you feel you can.

So what are the downsides?

The costs to your immune system; blood pressure; adrenal glands;

Sustained ‘need’ for the caffeine, crisis, or drama to feel alive;

Loss of relationships (can be difficult to have a great relationship with someone who bases their life on stress);

Loss of business due to reactive way of communicating, managing or operating;

Speeding tickets (always in a rush);

Can’t find the motivation to begin projects, much less complete them without the ‘rush’;

You don’t handle change or surprises well;

Another thing about adrenaline addiction is that as with any drug addiction, it’s a temporary way to avoid feelings, much the same as food addiction.

As a coach I find it is often difficult to coach those who are addicted to adrenaline, it takes us months to move past the point of ‘putting out fires’ and into really becoming effective at their business and relationships. They don’t realize they are both the arsonists and the firefighter.

I don’t for a moment want to give you the impression that I don’t have a craving for adrenaline myself — it is definitely part of my ‘driven personality’; however as I have begun to choose peace of mind over adrenaline, many things have shifted for me. The most important downside is that sometimes I mistake peace for boredom or the lack of ‘rush’ can feel like depression. And the most important upside is that all my relationships are so much better; my clients walk away from our calls with a sense of calm and a sense of inspiration. They begin to realize that peace, understanding, inspiration and sound business ideas come from within us first.

What is so bad that we need the adrenaline to compensate? Is it possible to look at the source of this need with a therapist or a coach and perhaps choose another source of energy? Would you like to choose a different operating system from the one you currently have? Are you willing to make some changes? How much of the outside stimulation do we actually need to be smart and loving at the same time?

Next time, we’ll talk more about how you can move yourself out of this addictive/reactive place and become the caring, responsive and savvy business professional you truly are.

~~~ If you're a professional who is ready to increase your income, decrease your working hours and take really good care of your customers; give Judy a call to find out more about her coaching programs.


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