How to Beat Overwhelm Every Time – My Story from the Trenches

Featured Video Play Icon

Here is one of my favorite things.  It’s how to cope with overwhelm. If you can cope with overwhelm you can do anything.  It’s very exciting.

So What is Overwhelm?

Imagine swimming in the ocean, when you see a massive wave bearing down on you. You can’t see over the top of it and you know it is going to come crashing on top of you. You know that feeling:  “Oh no, what is going to happen?”  That is Overwhelm.

In the workplace, I experienced this quite a few times, but the most severe occasion was when we had just implemented a brand new finance system to run all of the finance, purchasing and transactions for all of Hertz. This one system was going to replace 28 different systems.  It was a big thing.  Very critical and really cool technology that we were putting in.  But here was the problem. We had gone live with it, the system was in, but like with a lot of these implementations, things hadn’t quite gone to plan.  We’d gone in to pay our first bill, and guess what?  Nothing happened. No check went out, nothing happened. And that was Day 1.  Day 2 we tried again, nothing really happened, Day 3 a few things happened, but not much.  We were now on Day 10.

Let me tell you what that meant….

We pay out about $30 million a day.  Delay that for one day and you’ve got $60 million to pay.  You delay that for 10 days you have $300 million to pay.  This was beginning to look like that overwhelm situation. I had just been at a meeting with the CEO and the CFO and they were not happy, they were, quite frankly, worried.  That panic was coming down and we had no view on how to sort this out. The worst thing was that, even if this got sorted and we were suddenly able to pay the bills, it would still take weeks to pay off all of this $300 million, because we could only pay about $45 million a day. So even if everything magically became right today, we would still have a massive problem.

So I left the office with nerves and a tightness in the tummy.  It was about 8.30pm at night, but I hadn’t eaten lunch and only skimmed over breakfast, so I had to eat something.  I drove down to the local gas station and grabbed one of those sandwiches that normally you’d never want to eat. Then I got back into the car and parked it just next door to Barnes & Noble.

And it was then that it started dawning on me, OH WOW – if this doesn’t get sorted, the company is in danger.  As a company if you can’t pay your bills, that is so serious.  And it was my area that couldn’t pay the bills.  Irrespective of where the problem was, if anyone was going to sort this, it was going to have to be me.  I was looking at this massive wave, and I did not have the answers.

And I knew people were looking to me to have the answers.  I realized that I was likely to fail here and likely to fail big time.  And if I failed big time, the implication was a bust company.  

I just remember sitting there and thinking “Oh crap, what am I going to do? What can I do?”  I had a light sweat and my brain was flying around with different scenarios.  I just couldn’t think straight.  

Then, Katy Perry’s song “Roar” came on the radio and then the chorus, “You’re going to hear me roar”. I remember listening to the words and it just struck me. If this was going to be sorted, I was going to have to find my voice.  I was going to have to” roar”.  I was going to have to somehow figure this out.  Because no one else in the company, no one else outside of the company was going to be able to figure this mess out.  It just was not going to happen. I remember thinking I have no idea, but somehow I know I am going to have to get over this overwhelm. I am going to have to push through it and I am going to have to make it happen.

So that’s what I did. I returned to the office and went up to my team. We had a very big heart to heart.  Most of them had already been working 20 days straight, through the weekends, pulling long hours to try and sort this out. So they were tired too.  But I knew what I had to do. It was my responsibility. I did not have the answers, but I had to make sure that they knew that we were not going to get pulled in by this wave.  We were going to get through this.  By me making my stand, by me roaring, by me stepping up, everyone else lifted their game.  They could see a light and they could see a bit of inspiration.  And guess what happened?

The following day we did actually make our first payment.  And I mean, first payment – we got one check out, one check out of about 12,000 checks we should have gotten out. But we started to see progress.  The following day we got a bit more done, and a bit more and a bit more.  And yes, there was still panicking, but we started seeing in-roads. About 2 weeks later, the amount of money we had to pay started coming down again.  We were paying more than was building up.  Things were beginning to work. It was just a relief, relief that the whole team felt, relief that the CEO and CFO felt.  We still had a lot of work to do.  But things were working.

It was because I didn’t let this situation get to overwhelm.  I dug deep inside myself to see this differently.

When I look back and people ask, “What exactly did you do?”, I now realise I did two critical things. Imagine being back in the sea. Same big massive wave. Me in the water, but now I’m on a surf board. It’s the same wave. This wave is still going to crash on top of me just like before, it’s probably going to knock me off, hit me and batter me around, but now I’m going to learn how to master it. Because this is now an opportunity. If ever I have even a hint of being overwhelmed, I make that transition.

Facing the Wave of Overwhelm

So here are the 2 critical things I learned that I want you to take away from this:

  1. When you are overwhelmed, remember that with Time and Persistence, you can conquer any problem. It has always been the case for you, always, always.

And if you accept that, then the next part is absolutely obvious:

 2. You need to have Self-Belief. You can do this. You can always do this.

Self-belief is the difference between the surfer and the swimmer.  

So what I want you to do is, next time you hit overwhelm or even a hint of it, just remember these two things.  You can change everything with time and persistence. And given that you know you can always change everything, you have the self-belief, right?

Own it.  It’s yours.  Be the surfer.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure and sign up for my FREE insights and training on how to Master Your Income.  And if you’re a podcast person you can subscribe to the Income Mastery iTunes podcast here.

Transcription

(in case there was something you didn’t catch with my Irish accent!)

Here is one of my favorite things.  It’s how to cope with overwhelm. If you can cope with overwhelm you can do anything.  It’s very exciting, I have proven this with my so team many times. I want to make this a reality for you.

So What is Overwhelm?

Overwhelm is like swimming in the ocean.  There you are swimming away.  If you/re like me it’s a little doggy-paddle because I need to learn to swim properly, but that’s where you are. It’s lovely, you’re looking up and it’s blue skies, seagulls flying around.  But you look over and you see this massive wave bearing down on you.  It’s just so high. You can’t see over the top of it and you know it is going to come crashing on top of you.  You know that feeling:  “Oh my God, what is going to happen?”  That is Overwhelm.

In the workplace, I have experienced this quite a few times. One of the times it was pretty severe. It was about three and a half years ago now and I remember the occasion as vividly as if it happened yesterday. We had just implemented a brand new finance system. It was pretty cool. It was going to run all of Hertz’s finances – all the finance and purchasing and transactions for basically all of Hertz. This one system was going to replace 28 different systems.  It was a big thing.  Very very critical and really cool technology that we were putting in.  But here was the problem. It was actually 10 or 11 days after we had gone live with it, the system was in and we were all there supposed to be using it, but like with a lot of these implementations, things hadn’t quite gone to plan.  We’d actually gone in to press the button and pay our first bill, and guess what?  Nothing happened. There was no check went out, no statement on the bank, nothing happened. And that was Day 1.  Day 2 we tried again, nothing really happened, day 3 a few things happened, but not much.  We were now on day 10.

Let me tell you what that meant….

We pay out about $30 million a day.  Delay that for one day and you’ve got $60 million to pay.  You delay that for 10 days you have $300 million to pay.  Ok. This is beginning to look like that overwhelm situation.  Well that’s where we were.  We had a pile of bills that we could not pay because we had no system and the panic had begun to set in.  I had just been at a meeting with the CEO and the CFO and they were not happy, they were, quite frankly, worried.  That panic was coming down on the whole team, my team, the IT team and all the other teams, because we knew we were in a problem.  We had no view on how to sort this out. And the worst thing was that I knew that, even if tomorrow this got suddenly sorted and we were suddenly able to pay the bills, it would still take us ages to pay off all of this $300 million because we could only pay about $45 million a day. So even if everything magically today became right, we would still have a massive problem.

So I left the office with these nerves and a tightness in the tummy.  It was about 8.30 at night, but I hadn’t eaten lunch and breakfast I had really skimmed over, so I had to eat something.  I drove out, down to the local gas station. You know those sandwiches that normally you’d never want to eat, soggy lettuce, horrible, well these looked great to me.  So I grabbed one of them, back into the car, drove around just next door to Barnes & Noble and parked the car.

And it was then that it started hitting.  It was then that this started dawning on me and I was like, OH WOW – If this doesn’t get sorted the company is in danger.  As a company if you can’t pay your bills, that is so serious.  And it was my area that couldn’t pay the bills.  Irrespective of where the problem was or where it was sorted, if anyone was going to sort this, it was going to have to be me.  I was looking at this massive wave, and I did not have the answers.

I knew people were looking to me to have the answers. It was that realisation that “Oh, I’m likely to fail here and I’m likely to fail big time”. And if I fail big time, the implications of that is we have a bust company. We have a company that cannot do one of the basic things. I remember just sitting there and thinking “Oh crap, what am I going to do? What can I do?”  I remember there was this light sweat, you really don’t know what to do and your brain is flying around with all these different scenarios.  You just can’t think straight.  I was just sitting in there in the car, sandwich there – not eaten.  No appetite at all.

Next thing I still remember vividly Katy Perry’s song “Roar” came on the radio and then the chorus came on, “You going to hear me roar“, as only Katy Perry can sing it (I won’t even attempt to sing it for you guys).  I remember listening to the words of that and it just struck me. If this was going to be sorted, I was going to have to find my voice.  I was going to have to” roar”.  I was going to have to somehow figure this out.  Because no one else in the company, no one else outside of the company was going to be able to come in and go and try to figure this mess out.  It just was not going to happen. I remember thinking I have no idea but somehow I know I am going to have to get over this overwhelm. I am going to have to push through it and I am going to have to make it happen.

So that’s what I did. I turned on the car again. I did not eat the sandwich, just for the record. But I drove in and I went up to my team and we basically had a very big heart to heart.  Most of them had already been working 20 days straight, through the weekends, pulling long hours to try and sort this out. So they were tired too.  But I knew what I had to do. It was my responsibility.  I did not have the answers, but I had to make sure that they knew that we were not going to get pulled in by this wave.  We were going to get through this.  By me making my stand, by me roaring, by me stepping up there, everyone else lifted their game.  They could see a light and they could see a bit of inspiration.  And guess what happened?

The following day we did actually make our first payment.  And I mean, first payment – we got one check out, one check out of about 12,000 checks we should have gotten out. But we started to see progress.  The following day we got a bit more done, and a bit more and a bit more.  And yes, there was still panicking, but we started seeing in-roads in this. About 2 weeks later, the amount of money we had to pay started coming down again.  We were paying more than was building up.  Things were beginning to work. It was just a relief, relief that the whole team felt, relief that the CEO and CFO felt.  We still had a lot of work to do.  But things were working.

It was because of the situation, I didn’t let it get to overwhelm.  I dug deep inside myself to go and see this differently. When I look back and people ask, “What exactly did you do?”  There were two things that I now realise I did do and that I drum into everyone. I’m going to share them with you.

In a picture this is what I did. I saw myself here in the sea – swimming doggy paddle again and seagulls, and seeing this big wave. But here is how I now see that. Same big massive wave. Me in the water, but this is what I now see. I see myself on a surf board. It’s the same wave, but when I’m on a surf board, what do I see? This wave is still going to crash on top of me just like before, it’s probably going to knock me off, hit me and batter me around, but guess what I’m going to do it, and I’m going to learn, I’m going to do it and I’m going to learn. Because this is now an opportunity.  I am going to catch this wave right. I might actually sail along the top, the wave folding over me, and then I am through it.  It is the exact same wave, same situation, but now I see myself on a surfboard.  If ever I have even a hint of being overwhelmed, I make that transition.  So here are 2 things I want you to take away from this.

This could make a massive difference in your career. It could save your sanity, so please pay attention. I know they are very quick and very short but these 2 things have made a huge difference to anyone I have taught them to.

  • The first thing is that when you are overwhelmed, remember that with Time and Persistence, you can beat any wave.  It has always been the case for you, always, always.  So if you had a bit of time to learn how to surf, if you had a bit of persistence (so you phone up a coach, you phone up people in the know), you will conquer any problem. Guaranteed, absolutely guaranteed.  Always been the case, ok? If you accept that, then the next part is absolutely obvious:
  • Your Self-Belief.  You can do this.  You can always do this. Always, always, always. Self-belief is the difference between the surfer and the swimmer.  

So what I want you to do is next time you hit overwhelm or even a hint of it, just remember those two things.  You can change everything with time and persistence, always, always always. And given that you know you can always change everything, you have the self-belief, right? Own it.  That’s yours.  Be the surfer.

I hope this really helps you.

Thanks a million and see you next week.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure and sign up for my FREE insights and training on how to Master Your Income. And if you’re a podcast person you can subscribe to the Income Mastery iTunes podcast here.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field