The former fintech head turned high performance coach offers some mental wellness tips to help you now – and in the future.
Andrew Rooke is a high-performance coach based in Melbourne. He helps executives and business owners to reach their goals and their highest potential, and to live meaningful, adventurous lives. Andrew blazed a unique trail into high-performance coaching. Before he turned 40 he was executive director of a global fintech company, responsible for client service and several hundred staff located in the UK, China, India as well as Australia. “I’d done well for myself,” he recalls. “I’d travelled the world, met many incredible people and been very successful in the corporate environment. But working long hours, I hit a point of personal burnout and realised I was climbing the wrong ladder”. “Basically I was working from 5am till 11pm most days. My work started to consume my time to the detriment of family and friends, my creative activities, hobbies and importantly my health. I wasn’t enjoying my work anymore and it just really drained me mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
He knew something had to change. When his company was acquired by a US-based outfit, he decided to pursue his true passion, starting his own business to help others avoid the burnout he’d experienced. “What I realised is that life is much richer than pure ambition, money and working,” he says. With this backstory Andrew is certainly qualified to talk about the burnout and mental struggles many SME owners are dealing with at the moment with all the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Here he shares some tips that people can take now to help them in the short-term and, in turn, long-term.
Consider your overall wellbeing
To perform at your best and avoid burnout, consider your overall wellbeing from four key perspectives:
- Physical wellbeing – the health and function of your brain and body
- Psychological wellbeing – the quality and range of your thoughts
- Emotional wellbeing – the quality and range of your emotions
- Spiritual wellbeing – connecting to a purpose bigger than yourself
People often confer spirituality with religion; but that’s not the case. Being spiritual means doing what you love (or loving what you do), and realising that we are all connected to a higher purpose than ourselves.
Focus on the present
Right now, we are in the “new normal”. If you are anxious about the future:
- First concentrate on what you can do in the present moment. Slowing down and asking yourself “how is this a problem for me right now?” often helps bring a new perspective on the situation.
- Secondly, making and rehearsing plans for the future builds your resilience and confidence. If we plan and rehearse adequately for adverse scenarios, we know we are equipped to handle them should they arise.
- Thirdly, understand that what we focus on is what we tend to see – it’s the way we are biologically wired. Try to focus on what you can control and avoid dwelling on not what you cannot. Having positive focus and beliefs, helps us to see and take advantage of opportunities and increases our sense of wellbeing.
Being more emotionally fit and resilient
Emotional fitness can be used to describe the range and quality of our emotions. When I burned out I experienced frustration, anger and repression. To develop emotional fitness start by becoming emotionally aware by labelling the emotion and understanding what triggered the emotion. Journaling helps you identify patterns and implement strategies to become emotionally resilient.
Breathing deeply and even calling a time out can be useful circuit breakers in highly charged environments, potentially saving relationships and business deals.
The goal is to respond appropriately, rather than react. Having a range of emotions within our awareness and disposal is useful for negotiating, communicating and influencing – crucial skills for business and life.
Busy is not necessarily productive
The quickest way to productivity is eliminating ‘busyness’. If you have clear purpose and goals, it’s easier to identify work you can remove or defer from your day or delegate to someone else. I make a list each morning of my top seven things that will contribute to my purpose and diarise these for the first half of the day, when my brain is at peak productivity. And give up the habit of multitasking, neuroscience and very basic games show it doesn’t work. Focusing your attention on a single task to completion will have you complete it 40% faster, creating more available time and increasing your decision making options.
My advice to readers who are anxious, unfulfilled or seek their ultimate purpose is to play more:
- Do what brings you joy.
- Get to know and love who you are at a deeper level.
- Be present in whatever you do.
- Seek new experiences.
These choices will help you create and grow, literally re-wiring your neurology and biology for an amazing, fulfilling and high-performing life.