In literally every single program I’ve ever taught and every single program I’ve ever been a part of, I hear people complain that they feel “overwhelmed”.
Overwhelm has clearly earned a reputation as one of today’s badguys… along with the other usual suspects such as stress, burn-out, overwork, smoking, poor diet and a million other things that you absolutely must eliminate from your life unless… [insert dire consequence here].
But what if I told you that not only is overwhelm NOT your enemy… but what if overwhelm was actually an essential and uniquely valuable part of growing a successful business, and in fact, becoming a successful entrepreneur.
And not only that .. (hold onto your hats folks)… what if I told you that without overwhelm, you literally CANNOT be successful.
OK – let’s back up a second….
As humans, we naturally want more. Whether it’s more love, clients, success, money. We crave it. But the moment we get more than we’re used to receiving, we feel overwhelmed. We can’t take any more in.
It’s funny. We say that we want more, then we shut down if we actually get it.
What’s going on here?
The simple explanation is that we haven’t built the “muscle” to deal with more yet.
In his book The 4-Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss teaches people how to become experts in pretty much anything, fast. And his secret to becoming a fast expert in anything was (perhaps a little counter-intuitively,) to learn how to be OK with the feelings of resistance and overwhelm.
In general in life, we’re programmed to stop when we feel the resistance or overwhelm begin, and the feeling of being at the edge of what we can comfortably deal is usually a negative one. And the way we deal with that is by shutting it down, giving up, walking away.
The definition of overwhelm is to “receive too much of something”… but what if it’s ONLY when you’ve received too much of something that you actually begin to grow?
Imagine you’re at a gym lifting weights. What do you feel each time you lift the weight? Resistance, and your muscle quickly feels overwhelmed by the weight.
And what happens on the other side of that resistance? You develop muscle and strength. Of course you feel a little sore afterward, but you’ve grown your strength and your capacity to lift heavier and heavier weights next time.
But what happens if you stop lifting the moment you hit that resistance? The moment your muscle feels the overwhelm of too much weight? You don’t grow your capacity, and instead, you stay at your current level of strength, fitness or prosperity and never achieve your goals.
So how do you actually get the things that you want if you’re programmed to stop when you feel the overwhelm & resistance?
What if the next time you felt it happen, you were able to “flip the script.” What if, instead of saying, “Yikes! I feel overwhelmed“, what if you instead said, “Yay! I’m about to grow!“, and actively embraced that feeling of resistance and overwhelm as positive things?
It’s simply about redefining what resistance and overwhelm mean for you as positives that expand your capacity to be more, do more, feel more, have more and achieve more, as an entrepreneur, a business owner, and as a person.
In his book Emotional Equations, Chip Conley defines anxiety as “uncertainty X powerlessness.” Overwhelm can only be “overwhelming” if you choose to give up some of your power in the face of these emotions.
And the best way to overcome overwhelm is recognize where you’ve given away some of your power, and ask yourself “What’s one thing I can do right now? What’s one thing I can do to move forward no matter how I’m feeling or what’s happening in my life?”
Action (any action) automatically changes your self-identity from the kind of person who gives up, walks away or shut down, to the kind of person who does what they can when they can. The kind of person who gets back up on their feet and carries the ball forward, no matter what.
Even if it’s just one yard at a time.
Just move the ball forward one yard at a time and eventually you’ll reach the end zone… but you can’t reach the end zone if you give up.
The more you take action in the face of your overwhelm, resistance, fear, doubt and anxiety, the more you automatically build your self-confidence, resilience — the universal business traits.
This one simple practice will change your life and your business forever.
Who’s ready to rewrite their story around overwhelm and expand their capacity to do more, feel more, receive more, overcome more and achieve more? Let me know in the comments!
I’m also interested in hearing your strategies for taking action in the face of overwhelm.