Lots of trying? Sick of trying?

Exhausted from trying? Those shoulders sore from carrying?
Ooh if I had a dollar for every time I heard/saw that with business owners!
Conscious effort is the biggest fatigue source for any performance.
And then conscious effort, consistently pumped out over time – that’s the secret sauce of burnout my friend!
As we learn, we process new skills and knowledge, consciously. Another term for this is “Cognitive Load”. Conscious processing is energy intensive, burns up a lot of glucose in our brain and wears us down.
You’ll know you’ve got too much cognitive load if

People interrupt you and you rage/snap in response.
You are in your momentum, something distracts or complicates and you momentarily feel a wave of overwhelm.
If we develop competence:
We are applying the knowledge enough times that we don’t notice anymore that it is shaping our mental processes.
We practise a skill so much that we develop muscle memory and can respond and navigate the processes with little thought.
The test of if we have reduced the Cognitive Load, is if we can execute and be thinking about other things without it impacting the performance.
Driving a car gives us such a easy peasy way of demonstrating this concept…
Level 1 – Unconscious Incompetence
You don’t drive, haven’t learned to drive and are blissfully unaware that it even matters!
Yay – to be young and unencumbered by these pesky things!
No cognitive load.
Level 2 – Conscious Incompetence
You realised you can’t drive! Bummer. You are now consciously aware that you do not possess this skill. You may or may not want to possess it. But you know about it now, so it now has a cognitive load. A small load.
Level 3 – Conscious Competence
You start driving lessons. Oh the gear grinding and the cognitive load!
Driving lessons make you head have that dull thud after them, or sometimes you get agitated, confused and frustrated in the process of learning.
You are painfully aware of what isn’t working and everything takes 100{829f2e4cbfe65b9fc123dc3ff8f49fe4ab47a01502e726516860e9b93376304f} of your attention. You watch the road like a hawk, grip the wheel and are super-sensitised to how much pressure your foot puts on the pedals each moment.
The indicators sound loud and every oncoming car is large and lary.
These are all signs of cognitive load. A LOT of cognitive load.
Level 4 – Unconscious Competence
You have now been driving for years, can talk to someone, drink from a bottle, think about how you are going to deal with issues X,Y and Z all while driving.
In fact, most of your car journeys you didn’t even THINK about the process of driving and was a blur. Only becoming aware when something novel or dangerous shows up.
This is minimal cognitive load.
So if you are fatigued there is TOO MUCH cognitive load happening and we need to accelerate your learning and reduce all other stimuli to free you up for the expansion you want.
Focus “hygiene” is critical for overstimulated, overloaded leaders. And once we are “in it” wrenching yourself out takes phenomenal energy and discipline.
I like to think of a coach being an external “scaffold” during those times until we have the internal hygiene and structures to protect our cognitive load.

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