With leadership comes responsibility. When new to the executive role there is a great desire to prove yourself equal to that fresh responsibility. The challenge level is rarely low and the executive’s skill level is low. This is the perfect prescription for anxiety.

The antidote to anxiety is skill, but skill acquisition takes time. The skills that you need are either professional skills or personal skills.

The professional skills will be your technical skills that allow you to be able to handle the increase in performance. The personal skills will be the discipline required to manage your own resources and time to prioritize your own physical or mental health.

When there is no time to learn new skills you have three options:


When the task is a straightforward one that requires endurance and persistence to complete high levels of arousal improve performance. However, intellectually challenging requires intense concentration.

The mind must be slowed to enhance critical thought and decision-making. To do this you must sleep, and this sleep must be deep and restful.


You have more time than you think. To take the anxiety out of a task the executive must feel they are in control of the situation. Conversations often have no time limit. You don’t have to say what you want in this particular moment. It is reasonable to say “I want to go back to this point because I am having another thought on it”. This can help control the conversation and alleviate any feelings that you must get it out now.


When an executive’s skill levels are maxed out, to end the feelings of anxiety they must find some way to reduce the challenge. The easiest way to do this is to share the load by asking for help.

Asking for help may be straightforward, but it’s not simple for someone who is most comfortable in a state of self-reliance. They must be prepared to swallow their pride and say, “I don’t know”. It means they have to be vulnerable.

It is important to remember that every executive feels overwhelmed at times. Executives are prone to an all-or-nothing mindset, and this can cause problems when they’re learning to manage stress.

Anxiety is going to occur. What you do to change your physiological reaction, your body’s response to anxiety is what will determine if you are a winning player. When you are in the moment you don’t have time to work on your skills, the only option you have is to adopt strategies like the above that reduce the challenge.

If you would like to read more about how deconditioned executives can turn into athletes you can download a free chapter sampler of my book here or on the website.

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