According to the American College of Cardiology it could happen. Over 400,000 people in the U.S. will drop dead this year from ‘sudden cardiac arrest.’ Another 795,000 will have a stroke according the American Heart Association (AHA), and millions more will get sick and drop like flies from reduced immune system illnesses in the months ahead… and we all know the major culprit: “Stress.”
In my job, selling businesses to other businesses, I get Stressed. I get tired, I get worn out from time to time. It’s part of the job, right? And as a Baby Boomer it’s not my first time either. But what exactly is Stress?
“Stress” defined by Webster is [a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation]. Oh really? And I thought it was only (and please excuse my language) “The constant crap I can’t control.” Am I wrong? How about some examples, how many of us have constant work deadlines and have to wait for others to get you what you need first? Stuck in traffic, late to work. Ever lose a job? Or what’s that feeling you have when you notice the flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. Stress, is everywhere, it’s not a bad thing, it’s part of most working people’s daily life in America.
But what about Boomer CEO Stress in particular, what’s going on there, I wondered?
Months ago Hiscox Inc, a business insurance company, did a Survey of the Health & Wellbeing of over 500 small to medium size businesses with 250 employees or less in the U.S. They found that over 50% of respondents identified three leading causes of Stress:
Losing their business (54%),
Repaying personal debt (52%),
Losing customers (51%).
Sure, these are well elevated figures. But this is Business Stress. It’s self inflicted. It goes with the territory. I’m after the accumulating affects of life and business that put CEO’s health at risk in this generation. And I found it, not in the corner office, or even the back office, but the doctor’s office. And we all know what that means.
According to the AHA in their most recent Baby Boomers 2012 Statistical Fact Sheet (yes they track this stuff), 73% of men (72% women) between ages 60-79 have some level of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). It also counts 54% of both men and women between ages 55-64 with High Blood Pressure (HBP). And if those stats don’t scare you to death, to top it off, the AHA in particular points out that a staggering 80% of Boomer men (69% of women) between ages 55-64 are overweight, or obese! Yikes.
So why would an Obama victory knock a CEO off his or her game? I’m not saying it will. But there are indeed legitimate reasons to be concerned about macro America. In the August 2012 NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) monthly Small Business Optimism Index survey (of 1800 small business owners in the U.S), Optimism suddenly dipped in July 2012, after rising for several months in a row. The decline, they say…”while less anticipated… still leaves owner optimism disturbingly low and at recession levels…making this the worst recovery period from a recession in the NFIB survey history (which began in 1973).”
Worse, as we approach the election, Stress levels will likely rise again in survey after survey with eye-popping headlines. The lingering “uncertainty” facing millions of businesses in America still remains an open question, no doubt. There are dozens of political and economic issues that are simply out of your control, including new taxes, new healthcare, new regulations, and the Fiscal Cliff budget cuts coming next year. The compounding affect and constant build-up could catapult weary CEO Stress levels into the kill zone without help.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Remember the Goal? Don’t get distracted. Stay focused on what matters going into this election. If you’re in a successful business now, remember, “you did build that.” And it’s you that drives your success not surveys, or statistics. It’s you and your team that drive the unstoppable American Dream and spirit. Take a look at the Hiscox survey link again, it also lists the top three words owners describe themselves as: “Determined,” “Focused,” and “Open-minded.” Notice we didn’t need a survey to tell us that. That’s the Forever We Lead sign already in front of American businesses.
So until we can get more clarity, remember the Serenity Prayer and then focus on the things you can control, like over-delivering on customer service, and communicating the value of your product or service to customers every day. Because, no matter who wins the election this November, if you’re a CEO Boomer, less Stress means more chances you and your business will still be around to enjoy even more surveys when the dust settles.