Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.

Do you have a hidden advantage?

Maybe you live with ADHD and creativity comes naturally for you.

More good news; recent research shows individuals with ADHD have an innate creative potential that could put them among an organization’s most valued employees.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied a group of college students with and without ADHD who were compared on lab tasks of creativity and found the research indicates that individuals with ADHD are:
  • More flexible in tasks that require creating something new, and less likely to rely on example and previous knowledge.
  • Less prone to design fixation or the tendency to get stuck in a rut,
  • Less likely to stick closely to what already exists when creating a new product.
This research provides more confirmation that the characteristics of ADHD can be an asset in creative endeavors. It also means that for those with ADHD, finding the right career to allow that creativity to flourish is essential

Is creativity alone enough to rise above the competition and put your innovations out in the world?

Of course, you also need the hard skills or technical skills, that you learn in school or training programs.
In order to ensure your ideas come to life you need a combination of technical (hard) skills and inter-personal (soft) skills.

Creativity is one of many soft skills that is essential in a world where innovation is paramount to an organization’s growth.

7 Other Soft Skills to Boost Your Creative Impact

  1. Communication
    With the number of emails, proposal and design documents, clear and compelling written communication is essential. Effective verbal communication is equally important.  If you work in the IT field, you often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers and employers. You must also be able to explain your ideas in such a way as to make others want to support and finance your projects. Without strong communication skills, your creative genius will be overlooked and your creative ideas will never make it to market.
  2. Determination
    A number of innovative projects stall because of a variety of issues: financial problems, issues with vendors, problems with software, hardware or processes, a lack of teamwork, or one of many other reasons. It is important for to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work toward that result. Beginning a project with a clear and realistic timeline and budget can help you achieve your ultimate goal. Your employer will be impressed with your ability not only to plan a project, but also to see it through to completion.
  3. Flexibility
    Professionals often face setbacks or unexpected changes, ranging from a technical problem with their project to a last-minute issue with a vendor or a change in direction from management or the client. You must be open to suggestions and feedback, whether from an employer or client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive, and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.You need to learn to be flexible, accepting these changes and immediately looking for creative solutions. Employers will appreciate this flexibility.
  4. Leadership
    Even if you are not in a management position, you will often be asked to manage a project or team. Being a project manager requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and a constant focus on the end goal. You may also be involved in client and vendor management. It is essential that you know how to communicate with clients and vendors effectively to ensure your company’s needs are being met efficiently.
  5. Listening
    It is not only important to communicate your own ideas, but you also need to listen actively to others. It’s important to listen closely to what the client or your employer wants so that you can give them exactly what they are asking for. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person.
  6. Negotiation
    No matter what your position, you will need some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling your idea to an organization. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out, particularly if you want to be promoted to a management position.
  7. Teamwork
    Innovation projects are often the work of a team of professionals rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential. You need to be able to communicate your ideas and listen to others’ suggestions, and know when to take a leadership role and when to be a team player.

Master these soft skills and your creative ideas will come to life!