The #1 Monster That Kills Your Business

This article was born from a fascinating discussion with Howie Jacobson,
author of Adwords for Dummies, brilliant leadership coach,
alternative lifestyle ambassador and roving genius.

What is perhaps the single biggest thing that stops you in business?

Overwhelm Attacks.

This is frequently a trauma response. It kills initiative.

In men it looks like, “I don’t know what to do, or where to go next.”

In women it looks like, “I don’t see a path, I only see
the top of Everest. And I can’t move.”

Your inner impulse, from which all action springs,
is trodden underfoot.

In other words, your own, excited,
“Wow! I can see where I’m going and I love it!”
response which fires you up to finish your projects, is crushed.

This response is an instant, overwhelming, freeze.
You can’t make a move. You don’t see any moves.
It looks so exhausting you’d rather pull the covers over your head.

You can stay here for months. Even years.

You need your own pace to achieve,
time to get things done, and a feeling of control.
Overwhelm, or what you see as overwhelm, can stop that cold.

I took 100 hours of street-fight training, and the
problem is very similar. When a mugger approaches a woman,
he usually terrifies her with ugly language, frightening behavior,
and maybe a knife. Women freeze, and by the time they come out of it,
damage has occurred.

What my 100 hours of training taught me was to
get past the freeze response. Here’s how.

What the woman doesn’t know is that the mugger…

1) expects no resistance and
2) doesn’t have a second move

All he knows is to throw her to the ground.

But — from the ground is where women have all the power to fight him off.

Women’s pelvic muscles and legs are as strong as a man’s arms.
That’s why a 5’6” woman (me) can knock out a 6’4” man.
Over 100 times.

What you need to know is that Overwhelm Attacks
can be just a temporary response brought on by
past trauma (“I was never good at technology”) or cultural beliefs:

  • I’m too artistic for business.
  • I became a doctor so I wouldn’t have to go into business.
  • I’m too spiritual for business
  • I’m drowning! Get me out of here!

Your mind on Overwhelm is like the mugger.
It expects no resistance. It doesn’t have a second move.

You can get past it. You can melt the freeze.
You can stop the overwhelm.
You can get up to cruising speed again.

How do you stop the Overwhelm Attack?

1. Just like my fight class, ground yourself.

When you are in Overwhelm, you do not know you have a body.
But your body can bring you out of this.

Immediately do something physical. Jump, walk away
from your desk, go outside if you can, touch your arms and legs.
You are not, at that moment, in your body.
Keep moving, keep touching your arms and legs until
you feel a shift in your mind.
Your body will ground you and bring you into the present.

In the present, you have choices. You can make a move.

2. Call a trusted friend and tell them you just had an
Overwhelm Attack.

Have them spend 10 minutes
with you breaking down your giant task into the
smallest possible steps. Ludicrously small.
Like naming a folder.

3. Do the first step within 2 hours.

The pattern created by Overwhelm Attacks may have etched a
deep neurological pathway in your brain.

A series of small successes will overcome that pattern.

One small success per day, day after day, and you will feel like a winner.
Nothing can stop you.

Overwhelm will learn that it’s can’t win, and eventually,
you will not have these attacks any longer.

And at this point – there’s no stopping you!

8 Comments on “The #1 Monster That Kills Your Business”

  1. Love this article. Overwhelm is such a huge problem for business owners. Whilst I’m used to handling what looks like overwhelm for myself and my clients I found your tips for moving beyond the freeze to defend yourself very eye opening. Thanks so much.

    1. Rachel, thank you so much for your thoughts. The freeze is real, but I just want people to know we can push through it. I think overwhelm is one of the worst threats to business we have these days. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. This parallels the overwhelm many experience when they want to get healthy, lose weight and restore their energy levels. The solution is clear yet the know-how to get there can seem a steep climb. We want to arrive at goals yesterday!

    Though some people can make big changes overnight, lifestyle shifts need to be practiced and most success comes via micro changes practiced and built upon over time. As you say, Ann, starting with the smallest doable change – like labeling a folder. If we start with the paths of least resistance, it girds us and builds confidence for the bigger challenges which are, after all, just a bunch of smaller challenges congregated.

    People can feel that these changes are so small as to be ridiculous, and don’t make the effort to start incrementally – yet then find weeks or months later they haven’t made any movement towrd living their ideal. If they’d only started small, they’d be further along than the all-or-nothing strategy that, more often than not, means nothing.

    The ‘monster’ lesson translates to just about every venue – thanks for the reminder, Ann!

    Lani Muelrath

    1. Hi Lani,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

      I agree with you. Small changes are just about the only way that real change happens. The small step bypasses the freeze response, which keeps us stuck. And I agree with you, I believe it applies to just about everything.


  3. Grateful as I open this, this morning, for the reminder. Familiar with taking the small steps for better health, but looks like I need to be reminded to apply that to creating businesses that work for me.
    Would like to hear more about your street self-protection course, having been injured by angry men a couple of times in my life. That sounds like valuable training to have!

    1. Hi Hannah,

      Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.
      I have discovered small steps are the way to freedom.

      The course that I took is called Impact Personal Safety. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It changed my thinking, my behavior, even my dreams were different. There are four levels. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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