Brake or Break? A new pace for business in the new year
Even if you’re not a huge fan of Formula One racing, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill and excitement of watching the skilful Lewis Hamilton, now heading the list of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. Yet, any of one of these F1 heroes will tell you that it is not difficult to simply drive fast. The real skill is in the timing of using the brake — knowing precisely when to slow down and when to accelerate.
In business, we have certainly mastered the accelerator pedal. Indeed, we’ve had a proverbial foot planted firmly on it for the past few decades. It’s not that we’re less skillful with the brake — I believe we’ve forgotten it even exists.
Having worked in large global businesses for more than 25 years, I recall days packed with conference calls, meetings and plenty of travel. The nine to five had become more of a five to nine for many people. Working through lunch or responding to e-mail at the weekends was seen as evidence of commitment and loyalty — actions to be admired or copied.
As many regular Bullogers will remember, by forgetting to apply the brake, I found myself having a breakdown and spent almost a week in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital just over 6 years ago. To my surprise at the time, I wasn’t the only business professional in residence. That episode was the catalyst for writing my book which seeks to shift the debate from a singular focus on the mental health of individuals, to looking at the mental health of the system in which we are operating. Breakdown, burnout and disengagement are perfectly normal human responses to a corporate system whose pace and expectation has escalated, as a result of digital technologies, so that it is now unsustainable.
For a while, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to offer one ray of comfort in its bleak onslaught on our economies and societies — an opportunity to step off the hamster wheel and slow down. No longer would we be judged by the number of hours spent conspicuously at our desks under the watchful eye of our bosses and peers. Instead, our contribution would be calculated solely on the outputs and results we achieved.
This article is an extract from the January edition of The Bullog*, my monthly blog. To read the full blog or to sign up to receive The Bullog directly each month visit………www.gibbulloch.com/bullog
* The Bullog = Bulloch + Blog