Can high performance lead to high levels of anxiety?

Have you ever thought that high performance can actually cause anxiety? In fact if you surveyed leaders around the world they would unquestionably say absolutely not, high performance is a necessary quality for success. However, I’ve found it’s one of four qualities that, when under stress, actually produces anxiety. It’s also important to note this includes all leaders; whether it’s leading a billion dollar company, a family, a religious organization, in any industry, any age and any where in the world. You might say high performing leadership is an “All-Planet” behavior.

I have the opportunity to coach high performance leaders who have strong personalities. They want to solve some issue or problem that’s interfering with their ability to perform. Basically to get better at what they do. In a majority of my clients I’ve discovered the High Performance Cycle. Let’s pretend you are in the High Performance Cycle. Here’s what you can expect:

You started your career with the desire to “want to” perform at your very best.
As the company grew so did your responsibilities and the stress you have to deal with on a daily basis.
In time, stress became overwhelming and your desire to “want to” perform transformed into the behavior of “needing to” perform.
Your behavior of “needing to” perform created a high degree of anxiety or anger or both.

Your next step could be a trip to the emergency room complaining of chest pains, thinking you’re having a heart attack, or to the family doctor worried that you might have one. Ninety-nine percent of the time the diagnosis is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A little anti-anxiety medication and your off to work feeling a little better, but it’s not over yet. The symptom has been properly dealt with but the underlying behavior has not.

The underlying behavior creating your anxiety is the “need to” perform. In todays vernacular you’re not having fun anymore.

In the next series of newsletters and blogs I’m going to attack the internal issues that create anxiety and anger in leaders. More importantly we’re going to share with you how to stop the behaviors before you hit the panic-attack button or your doctor says you have generalized anxiety disorder.

Expert Reactions:

"Dr. Rausch - thanks for tackling this subject. It seems that so many leaders get on a "achievement treadmill" that there's no way to get off. We need to equip our leaders so they can help the next generation live a more healthy lifestyle." CJ McClanahan, Executive Coach, Speaker, Author

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Dr. Bob Rausch

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