Listen to Your Body…Before Your Hands Turn Blue

“The uneasy truth is that you can handle a great amount stress until, suddenly, you can’t.” – Kevin Lawrence

I put a lot of effort into presenting a simplified version of the principles in my book, in Montreal, because I want to make a greater impact on audiences about how the 17 habits can help to manage their energy, clarity, team and growth. It’s important for people to get that, at the end of the day, leadership is a mental game.

After the keynote, many shared their stores about how the content resonated and was meaningful, to them. Two stories stuck out:

  • One was from someone who had lost their spouse, a few years ago, to mental health issues which led to a medical condition that ended his life prematurely. It had been a painful experience, but she had come out notably stronger because she had seen a therapist and done the work. This is a great example of what I talk about in Chapter 6 Deal with Your Emotional Junk. By doing the necessary work, these challenging and traumatic events can be an addition to our lives, rather than a permanent trauma.
  • Like many very successful people, another CEO said she would just keep pushing through when she met an obstacle or an issue, ignoring her body’s signs to get her attention to stop. One day, she got a big wake-up call when she noticed her hands were blue – yes, literally blue, like the characters in Avatar – and found out that her body had gone into a shock-like state, emulating a condition in the body where the blood drains out of a part that is threatened. Like in caveman days, when a person was bitten by an animal and the body responded to make sure they didn’t bleed out. She also had Bell’s Palsy, a condition in which the muscles on one side of your face become temporarily weak or paralyzed.

This was one of the craziest stories I’ve heard, but I’ve seen similar things with high-performing leaders. Sooner or later, strong, smart, determined people who just keep pushing through are stopped in their tracks – and it can be spectacularly dramatic when it happens.

The Challenge

  • Listen to your body. What are the signals your body gives you when you are stressed?
  • What do you need to do about it?