Time Management

Are you an adrenaline addict?

April 4, 2013

We’ve all heard the Jeff Foxworthy jokes, “You might be a redneck if . . .”

  • You’ve ever raked leaves in your kitchen.
  • You have an Elvis  Jell-O mold.
  • You’ve ever bought a used baseball cap.

OK, maybe you’re not a redneck.  But chances are, you just might be an adrenaline addict.  Did you know that you might be an adrenaline addict if . . .

  • You cannot go for more than five minutes without checking your iPhone.
  • You find yourself checking your email in the middle of the night.
  • You run from meeting to meeting with no time in between.
  • You feel as though you always “over-promise” and “under-deliver.”
  • You always feel overwhelmed.
  • You’re usually running late.
  • You arrive at the office already feeling rushed.

These are just a few of the telltale signs of adrenaline addiction.   And many leaders suffer from it.  But it’s no laughing matter.  Adrenaline is the most potent stimulant created by our sympathetic nervous system.  It’s created response to stress and increases heart rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure. And it raises the blood levels of glucose and lipids, in addition to having  other metabolic effects, according to The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.  We are not built to have adrenaline coursing through our veins 24/7.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens to adrenaline addicts.

In his article, The Painful Reality of Adrenaline Addiction, Patrick Lencioni, explains:

“There is something particularly insidious about adrenaline addiction that makes it hard for many leaders to kick the habit. Unlike other addicts whose behaviors are socially frowned-upon, adrenaline addicts are often praised for their frantic activity, even promoted for it during their careers.  And so they often wear their problem like a badge of honor, failing to see it as an addiction at all in spite of the pain it causes.  When confronted about their problem, adrenaline addicts (I’m a recovering one myself) will tell you about their endless list of responsibilities and all the people who need their attention. And while they’ll often complain about their situation, they’ll quickly brush off any constructive advice from spouses, friends or co-workers who “just don’t understand.”

The legal profession has a long history of encouraging adrenaline addiction.  How many lawyers have you heard brag about the long hours they work?  Maybe you’re one of them.  If you are, why not make make a committment to kick the adrenaline addiction?

How?  Start by downloading and reading  Lencioni’s article here.  Then slow down.  One of the most effective things you can do to begin to overcome adrenaline addiction is to slow down.   Take control of your calendar and ask your staff to help you. Give them permission to tell you when you are getting out of control.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.   If you’re an adrenaline addict, make this your year to do something different.  Kick the habit.