How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Jason Lemkin

Edited excerpt from Jason Lemkin‘s answer to How do CEO’s stay calm?:

1. You must fake it. You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control. Ever. Once they see that… they will lose faith.

2. You need help. Ideally, 1, 2, or 3 others on the management team that can really help carry the load. So you don’t have to worry about 1, 2 or 3 key functional areas, at least not at an execution level. If you don’t have true help carrying the load — stop. Do almost nothing else. Recruit someone.

3. You need a break. In fact, lots of them. Some way. I ran 26 miles a week, and took long walks to think. Coffee is good too, if you take it away from the office. Something. Get breaks.

4. You need someone to confide in. At least one. One person you can really share the things with that make you …un-calm. One great advisor, whoever it is.

5. Once the business is real, self-sustaining — you need to take a real vacation. Not just a trip where you email 4 hours a day. A real vacation. Honestly, it may be 4-5 years until you can do this. But once you can, it will help a lot.

Notes:
(1) Jason was answering a question specifically about CEOs. But this applies to all managers.
(2) A key element of immense work pressure for managers is the burden of making decisions. So think about limiting decision fatigue.
(3) “You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control” — see Tony Schwartz’ advice on how to resist emotional triggers.

5 thoughts on “How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Jason Lemkin

  1. Personally, I think the idea of faking it — while commonly accepted wisdom — is misguided. Even debilitating. It contributes to founder mental health issues, if you ask me.

    The assumption that you will lose faith of employees if you show too much sweat is one we should all challenge. We can and should expect more of our teams. Employees need to know their CEOs are peers — humans — and trust that they are authentic. That said, of course we all need to learn to recognize triggers that set us off, and get ahead of them where possible.

    • Good point, Roy. “Fake it” isn’t the same as “don’t lose control”. That’s how I interpreted Tony Schwartz’ advice that I linked to in the notes: Don’t fake it, but learn how to control your emotions so you don’t explode at people due to the pressure.

      • Amen. I think that emotions are great in the workplace — it’s the fast-trigger, impulses that are worth noting and using, vs. being used by them.

  2. Pingback: How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Charlie O’Donnell | A Founder's Notebook

  3. Pingback: How to deal with anger at work | A Founder's Notebook

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