Can People Under Pressure Sustain Highly Creative Levels of Performance For Long Periods And Not Burn-Out?

By Don Goewey

Once I was asked by a senior executive: Can people work ten hours a day, five and sometimes six days a week for extended periods of time and sustain high levels of creative performance without burning out? She was pushing her team very hard to meet a deadline for a high stakes project and the team was frayed by the stress they were experiencing.

The answer to this question is yes.  You don’t have to be a corporate athlete to sustain high performance. Do these simple things and you will be able to sustain peak performance, even in challenging situations.

1. Bust Negative, Stressful Thinking: Managing your thoughts is so important. Ask any neuroscientist.  He or she will tell you that anxious thinking is the mother of stress and that a brain under stress is incapable of sustaining peak performance. Managing your thoughts is simple to do. Say, for example, that your project just uncovered a significant error.  Your first thought is I’m screwed.  I’ll never get this right. Here is a proven approach, developed by Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is, that busts a debilitating thought:

  • Ask yourself, do I know 100% for certain that this thought is true?  Not 50%, but 100% certainty.  If not, it is not worth the emotional upheaval or the flood of stress hormones that will derail your ability to perform.
  • Simply say, I chose not to believe this thought. Instantly, you will be transported to an experience of freedom.  Try it and see.
  • Then ask yourself, Who would I be without this stressful though? I guarantee that you will find the answer encouraging.

2. Inspire Yourself Regularly: Starting each day in quiet gratitude can set a positive day in motion. During the day, every couple of hours, take a spiritual break. Look out the window for a minute and let your mind go completely. Watch the wind blow, the sun shine, or the rain fall. End the day in gratitude, counting your blessings.

If at some point you sense that your brain needs a rest, take the time.  The brain is very “plastic,” meaning it can repair itself. A day of genuine rest can rejuvenate the brain.  You’ll return to the job fresh, creative and positive.

3. Make Time For A Little Physical Activity. You don’t have to go to the gym and spend an hour on the tread mill and another hour pumping iron to change brain chemistry. A mellow thirty-minute walk around the neighborhood, five days a week, goes a long way toward flushing stress hormones from your system. Stress hormones make you tired and are toxic to neural networks that generate the creativity, positive emotion and practical intelligence that defines a peak performer.  So, talk a walk around the block and rid yourself of the toxicity.

One Response to “Can People Under Pressure Sustain Highly Creative Levels of Performance For Long Periods And Not Burn-Out?”

  1. Sonal Seth says:

    Thanks Jennifer for pointing out this point. It is very usefull & just to add some more points here like :

    (1) Do some activities which you like
    (a) Play with your Dog
    (b) Cook some food
    (c) Spend time with your family & friends

    (2) Do meditation

    All these activities also would also help you to relieve from stress. I will be publising a new article on stress bursting ” 10 Minutes trick can relieve you from stress”

    Sonal, PMP

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