For many, addictions are taboo, and they aren’t spoken about. Alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, gambling, working too much. All of these can negatively impact a person’s life and affect their ability to lead. Addictions can even alter someone’s ethical convictions. Facing an addiction head-on is the best way to make a change, and the best way to increase performance
Before you can change a behaviour, you first have to recognise and acknowledge that behaviour. But many of us don’t want to see problems such as addictions. As humans, we are very good at rationalising our actions. It’s not bad to have a drink socially. It won’t hurt to smoke one more cigarette. It’s OK to take that pill, just
UNDERSTANDING YOUR ADDICTIONS
For many people, addictions help them cope with everyday life. Stresses from work, home life, financial obligations, and medical woes weigh heavily on some of us, and to compensate, we turn to gambling, or drugs, or alcohol.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. You can be addicted to video games, to the internet, or to social media. Do you obsessively check your phone for emails? Are you afraid you might miss an important tweet or post on Facebook?
Or maybe you exercise - a lot. While motion is good for our brains and bodies, for some, it crosses the line into addiction. Food can also be addictive, and instead of providing nourishing fuel it can trap us and make us sick.
Take a moment and write down things that you do often. Are you working too much? Has your work become your addiction? Are you drinking too much? Whatever it is, stop and write it down. It can be so hard to look critically at your own behavior, but you have to ask yourself, are you hurting other people with your addictions?
When your addiction compromises what is important to you, or your ethical values, it’s time to admit you have a problem. Your personal ethics shape who you are and addictions make it easy to bend or even break these defining lines. If you need one more drink and then drive, or you need to place one more bet and then can’t pay your bills, your ethical values are no longer in charge - your addiction is.
THE SCIENCE OF ADDICTION
Facebook has close to 2 billion users or about a quarter of the population of the planet. While there are definite positives to social media use, certain individuals end up using FB and social networks excessively. A study found a link between loneliness and a Facebook addiction. People used online companionship to compensate for the lack of relationships in real life (Biolcati, 2018).
Has anyone ever called you a “workaholic?” Did you shrug off that observation without really thinking about it? Workaholism has been studied greatly in the past decade or so, as we continue to push ourselves to do more at work. If you spend long hours working, even beyond your organisation’s expectations, you are probably a workaholic. This addiction is associated with poor health, low life and job satisfaction, and sleep problems (Andreassen, 2017).
Whatever your addiction, it probably has more of an impact on your life than you realise. Ask your peers, your employees, your partner, or your children if your addiction affects them. Chances are, the answer will be yes. Addictions can destroy lives, but there is help available.
HOW ADDICTION AFFECTS YOUR PERFORMANCE
Addictions have the power to change how your mind is wired. To increase the performance of your brain, you must first create a brain-friendly culture, and that means facing your addictions. As a leader, you should be mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to perform at your very best. The journey may be difficult, but you are your own best resource, and you don’t have to let addictions lead your life.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
How to break free of your addiction:
- Seek professional help. Help is out there. Taking that first, brave step is so difficult, and if you see that someone needs help, offer a shoulder or a hand up.
- Face the real problem. Do you use Facebook to combat loneliness? What if you volunteered instead, or visited a nursing facility? If animals are more your thing, dog walkers are always welcomed at your local shelter.
- Find a buddy to commiserate with. Trying to quit smoking? Find someone else who is as well. Companionship can help you get through the tough moments.
- Write down your successes. Did you make it home on time? Did you set aside that donut? Did you leave your phone in another room for the evening? Write down these successes in a journal. When you feel down or upset, revisit these moments of triumphs and acknowledge that setbacks are only temporary.
- Consider yoga and meditation. Addiction is about mindset, and you can change your mindset through meditation. Give your body and mind a healthy outlet for stress and temptation.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP
Instead of sweeping the problem under the rug to face another day, what if you stopped now? What if you decided to make changes, and then worked hard to see results? The will help you strengthen the observer within and give you the power of choice.
We are all addicted to something. Many of us can live relatively normal lives with these obsessions, but understanding how your brain undermines your ethical values when you relinquish control to addictions is the first step to recovery. Learning how your brain is engaged during decision making can create the best conditions for great decisions to occur, including walking away from addictions.
Andreassen, C. S., Bakker, A. B., Bjorvatn, B., Moen, B. E., Magerøy, N., Shimazu, A., … Pallesen, S. (2017). Working Conditions and Individual Differences Are Weakly Associated with Workaholism: A 2-3-Year Prospective Study of Shift-Working Nurses.Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 2045. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02045 > http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02045 . Biolcati, R.; Mancini, G.; Pupi, V.; Mugheddu, V. Facebook Addiction: Onset Predictors.J. Clin. Med. 2018, 7, 118.