Today I’d like to share with you two stories of some of my dearest clients. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy, but read their stories and see whether they resonate with you.
The first story is about Steve, Managing Director of Sales in the Sydney office of a global investment bank. Late 40s, 2 kids, over 15 years married to his college sweetheart, and a quite brilliant banking career covering 3 continents, Steven was struggling with stress so much that he was experiencing anxiety attacks, both at the home and in the office. During the weekend he wouldn’t leave the house, lying exhausted in bed. He’d barely get up for meals and was losing his connection with his children, to the extreme concern and disappointment of his wife. In the office he was holding it together but occasionally forgetting appointments, confusing client details and exploding in anger with his team more than he’d like to admit.
For sure his employer didn’t want to lose one of its highest revenue generators and Steve, with school fees still payable for several years had no choice but to push through. During his career he’d dramatically grown the business over 4 times the size it was when he started. When we first spoke he was on the edge of a divorce, one step before burn out and on his third PA that year.
I admit this was a difficult case. Like most successful white males of my generation, Steve wasn’t that used to talking and at some level simply wasn’t used to being honest with himself about the state he’d reached. He was reluctant to accept help, perceiving that Coaching was not only a punishment for his recent failures but would jeopardise his career and compensation.
First stop: getting your head back above water. Release the intense stress, begin being productive and breath again. It sounds simple but this is the hardest part. Shifting inch by inch away from a break down and rebuilding that inner confidence. With a few initial adjustments, significantly improving his sleep and anger Steve latched onto Tai Chi as a route forward. We continued with mind exercises and some emotional work he’d been missing for years. With calm restored he dramatically altered his business and personal relationships and began to feel back on track. At work he redrew boundaries and got back to his ways of success.
At our last meeting Steve’s life was already way away from the danger zone: planning a family holiday, building the team and growing the business. And his first assistant came back to work!
The second story I’d like to share with you is completely different. It demonstrates how being stressed is neither a matter of age nor profession.
Single and in her early 30s, Vivian always wanted to be a journalist but never had the courage to do so. Stuck in Sweden with her family’s steel business wasn’t a lot of fun. Her older sister, a mechanical engineer, had died when Vivian was just a teenager prompting her to give up her dreams, feeling the pressure of family responsibility and drowning grief into work.
She’d work for days, sleeping only a few hours on a good day, trying to be social and hating it. When she contacted me she was practically a ghost of herself, not sleeping more than 15 hours a week for several months. She was taking sleep medication and then drinking stacks of coffee to stay awake. Desperate and open to change, we began working together though she never mentioned her dream of being a journalist. I could see from her email correspondence the attention she placed around words so we decided to use her creativity as part of her cure. I suggested her to start journaling and never expected what came next!
In just a few weeks she decided to delegate her role at the family business. She took decisive action and applied for journalism school.
She’s now the London correspondent for a Swedish national newspaper and couldn’t be more happy. Nor could I be more proud!
Extraordinary, right? If these people could achieve so much in such a little time, imagine what you could do if you start working on yourself! Want my help supporting those efforts? Drop me a line for a complimentary consultation.