Why Stress Reduction Is The Wrong Goal For Leaders Wanting Peak Performance - Where So Many People Get It Completely Wrong

Why Stress Reduction Is The Wrong Goal For Leaders Wanting Peak Performance - Where So Many People Get It Completely Wrong

Without a Question, the Single Largest Problem that Leaders have in today's world is Burnout.

80% of Employees have it, and the Statistics are Not Getting Better.

Burnout causes Extreme Decreases in Productivity, Creates Toxic Workplaces, Prevents Problem-Solving and Innovation, and Decimates Learning Capacity to name only a few of the Consequences.

When most people see this, their Immediate thought is, "If Burnout is Caused by Stress, then if we Reduce Stress then we will Solve The Problem!"

But is this actually True?

Well, it has created an Onslaught of Marketing for Programs, both Business and Wellness Related, that make a simple "Promise".

"Our Program(s) will Reduce Your Stress!"

But How Often Do These Programs Have Any Benefits?


Even with the "Benefits" that the Few Provide, they are Nearly Always Temporary.

Why is this?

The Best Plans, even when Perfectly Executed, Aimed at the Wrong Goals will Lead to Failure.

For Instance, if your Goal is to get to Antarctica, but all the Plans you Create go East or West, you'll "Never" get to Antarctica.

You'll just continue to circle across the Globe wondering why you can't seem to find Antarctica (hint, it's located in the South).

In this scenario, what Leaders want is Peak Performance, but the Goal of Stress Reduction will Never get them there.

Let's dive into this further to Understand Why.

If we take "Stress Reduction" to the Extreme, what do we get?

No Stress.

Now, I know that is not "Technically" Possible, but follow me to Understand where the Problem exists.

If we had Zero Stress from Everything in our Lives, what would happen?

You can narrow it down to One Word...


If we had Nothing to Worry About, Nothing Stressful in our Lives, we would become Bored.

But what Happens in Boredom?

Interestingly enough, we know what happens to Animals when they are Bored too Frequently.

They Die.

If you look at Animal Conservation, you discover that Animals in Captivity that have No Stress and are Constantly Bored, end up having Horrible Lives.

Bored Captive Animals have things like Shorter Lifespans than their Wild Counterparts, Lower Reproductive Success, Higher Still Birth Rates, Higher Infant Mortality, Debilitating Mental Trauma, and Horribly Painful Health Issues.

All because of Boredom.

This is why Animal Enrichment (outlets for Physical and Mental Exercise) is usually Required by Law for Captive Animals.

Humans are No Exception to this Rule of Life.

When "We" are Bored, we end up having the Same Problems.

But how does this Play Out in Business?

Well, usually People go from One Extreme to the Other Extreme around Stress.

They go to Work and Experience Extreme Levels of Dis-Stress, and then go Home and Experience Extreme Levels of Boredom.

It is a Cycle of Too Much Stress followed by Programs Aiming at Too Little Stress, with No Chance of Peak Performance.

This Cycle is made even Worse because there is a Different Facet of Stress that is Completely Unaccounted For.

Stress Damage (Oxidative Stress).

So, what is the Solution Here?

If we are in Burnout because of Dis-Stress, but Stress Reduction is Not the Goal We Need, then How do we get to Peak Performance?

The Solution comes from Stress Optimization.

Stress is not Inherently Good or Bad, and Is in fact Necessary for Peak Performance.

Peak Performance comes from Flow States which can only be Achieved through a Specific Cycle.

It goes Struggle (aka Stress), Release, Flow, and Recovery.

If you Do Not go through All Four Steps, you will Fail to get to Flow States and Peak Performance.

Now this is where Optimization becomes Critical.

You Must have Struggle, or Stressors, to get into Flow States.

However, if you have Too Many Simultaneous Stressors then you become Unable to Release.

Everyone has a Stress Threshold, or how much Stress we can Handle at Once.

For a Flow State, we must get Close to the Threshold, but not go Past it.

If we go Past it, it becomes Dis-Stress which blocks us from Flow.

Then, on the Flip Side, we are Unable to Stay in Flow Forever.

It is Physically Impossible.

This means that we must Recover after we hit a Flow State (and/or if we have too much Dis-Stress).

Recovery has Two Critical Components.

First, we can't be Too Bored.

As we've gone over, Too Little Stressors and Bad Things Happen.

So, we need what is known as Active Recovery, something that is Engaging Enough for our Bodies, but Significantly Below our Stress Threshold.

Then, during Recovery, we must also Reduce Stress Damage (aka Oxidative Stress).

When we Experience Stress, our Bodies utilize more Energy (Mg-ATP) to help us Overcome the Stressors.

However, this Process also leaves behind a form of Exhaust, or Stress Damage.

Ideally, our Bodies will Clean Up the Exhaust during Recovery Periods, mainly through something called Cerruloplasmin.

Ceruloplasmin is our Body's Master Antioxidant, or more simply, is the King of Stress Repair.

But if we Fail to Recover Enough, or Fail to Produce Cerruloplasmin, that Exhaust Builds Up in our Bodies.

As the Exhaust/Stress Damage Builds Up, it too becomes a Stressor.

The Further it Builds, the Fewer Stressors we can Handle, and the More Difficult it becomes to Optimize our Stressors.

Until the point where we have So Much Stress Damage, that "Any" Stressor puts us into Immediate Dis-Stress.

This all combines to Explain why Business and Wellness Programs have Catastrophically Failed to Reduce Burnout, leaving Leaders in a Truly Horrible Position.

Stress Reduction is the Wrong Goal.

Stress Optimization that includes Stress Repair is what Leaders Need for Peak Performance.

It is very simple to discover if a Business or Wellness Program will provide Long Term Benefits - Just ask how the Program Impacts Ceruloplasmin.

If they Do Not have an Answer, the Program will Do Nothing for Stress Repair.

Stress Repair is Necessary for Proper Stress Optimization.

Without Proper Stress Optimization, you will Never get Consistent Flow States.

Without Flow States, You will Never Attain Peak Performance.

Understanding the Right Goal is the Key to Success.

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