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Work Life Balance

A Brain Surgeon’s Tips For Handling Stress Head-On

If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning, this neurosurgeon advises. Oh, and another thing: “Never cut what you can’t see.”

Mark McLaughlin, MD

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Most people at least try to avoid stress, especially when it comes to business and workplace conflicts. Even successful, high-profile business icons struggle with how to handle stress: Elon Musk recently admitted in a tweet reported on by CNBC that he faces “unrelenting stress.”

That’s alarming to hear from such a famous and successful entrepreneur. And he’s hardly alone in the world of business: But as a businessman myself, and a neurosurgeon, I’ve discovered that the secret to a more fulfilling, successful life and career is to engage with stress, not run away from it.

In fact, many stressors we encounter are actually beneficial. Without the stress of gravity, our bones would soften; without the stress of exercise, our muscles would atrophy; and without the active engagement of our minds, our intellects would weaken and we would become more susceptible to dementia.

What’s more, when we’re not exposed to stress, we’re not learning or growing or getting stronger. Only when we fully engage in stressful situations and face our fears head on can we succeed in our personal and professional lives.

As a surgeon, I’ve encountered numerous high-stress circumstances requiring a cool head and decisive action. The discipline of neurosurgery has helped me develop cognitive dominance: It’s enhanced my situational awareness for making rapid and accurate decisions under stressful conditions, while the clock was ticking.

But if my years of making life-or-death decisions in the operating room have taught me anything, it’s that all of us must have the right tools to conquer one of the fiercest opponents any of us face: stress and fear. So, the next time you face a high-stress situation, try the following strategies for making better decisions under extreme pressure.

Related: Is Your Business Prepared For The Worst? How Your Can Stress-Test Your Business

1. Always place a drain

While many difficult situations in life are out of our control, others should never occur in the first place.

There’s a rule in brain tumor surgery: Aways place a drain. That preemptive procedure of putting into place a fluid drain gives surgeons more control of the operative micro-environment and makes the removal of a tumor safer by providing a “pop off” valve that can relieve intracranial pressure. By following this rule, we prevent a life-threatening problem during surgery and control our stress in the OR.

What are your safety valves? What are the “rules” you follow in your life that control stress and keep it in check?

One way to manage stress in the workplace is to deal with your overloaded email inbox. If you find yourself drowning in emails, with unanswered messages from months ago still sitting in inbox purgatory, wipe the slate clean and start fresh with an “email bankruptcy.” Simply delete all emails in your inbox with dates that are over a month old and move on.

With so much electronic communication today, who can possibly keep up? Striving to do so will only result in unnecessary stress, distracting you from truly important matters. An email bankruptcy allows you to stay in the current moment and keep your thoughts focused. (Besides, if something is truly important, the sender will follow up.)

Taking simple burdens such as these off your shoulders will free you up to make better, more level-headed decisions in all aspects of life.

2. Never cut what you can’t see

cant-see-blindfold

This pearl is based on the first rule of neurosurgery from my mentor, the master neurosurgeon Peter JannettaNever cut what you can’t see. Just as illumination and magnification are vital to surgeons, making tough decisions under pressure requires first shining a light on an issue and studying the situation closely to determine its true nature and ultimate solution.

I recently encountered significant stress in preparing for the most important toast of my life … for my only daughter’s wedding. I struggled with a flood of emotions the week before and broke down every time I also practiced my toast – a lot. After a lot of thought, I realised my problem stemmed from remorse at missing out on so many events in my daughter’s childhood due to my hectic surgery schedule.

Illuminating the issue allowed me to accept that these thoughts were natural for someone in my profession: Surgeons whose medical duties often bump up against family obligations. Rather than letting regret torpedo my speech, however, I determined to apply myself to being a better, more present parent in her adulthood.

If you’re running up against a roadblock or find yourself in a stressful or tense position, first shine a light on the issue and look at it from multiple perspectives. Ask yourself, “Why am I so anxious about this upcoming business meeting?” or “What’s really making me clash with this particular team member?” Make a point to illuminate, magnify and dissect your problem: The anatomy of the issue might be right in front of you, and you just haven’t been able to recognise it yet.

Related: 49 Inspirational Quotes And Mantras To Help You Overcome The Stress Of Running A Business

3. Get a second opinion

Avoid your first reaction to any stressful event, as it’s often the wrong one. Almost invariably, your first reaction is going to be geared toward self-preservation, and that’s not generally the best solution to any problem. Instead, find ways to de-personalise the situation, removing emotion from the decision-making process to make smarter choices based on measured facts and different perspectives, not off-the-cuff feelings.

For example, I find it difficult to maintain a balanced perspective when a patient isn’t doing well or has unexpected symptoms after a surgery, so I often turn to one of the five other doctors in my practice for an unbiased, third-party analysis. Reaching out for another opinion is helpful from the perspective of achieving optimum care and deleting the emotional aspect.

If you find yourself stressed, nervous or under the gun, don’t leave the decision on your own shoulders. Get an outside opinion from a trusted partner, colleague, friend or mentor to obtain an unbiased assessment.

By facing stress head-on with these rules, you can gain greater control in work and personal matters, allowing you to practice cognitive dominance in any situation.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Mark McLaughlin, M.D., is a board-certified neurosurgeon, currenly practicing neurological surgery at Princeton Brain and Spine Care, with a focus on spinal disorders and trigeminal and occupital neuralgia and chiari malformation surgery. His mission is to use the lessons he's learned in his career to help others engage and wrestle with stress.

Work Life Balance

3 Ways To Balance Your Business, Family And Everything Else

You can do it all (or at least make it easier to do everything you enjoy) with these smart tips from a successful entrepreneur.

Manny Khoshbin

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The following excerpt is from Manny Khoshbin’s book Driven: The Never-Give-Up Roadmap to Massive Success.

Balancing your life is like one of those acrobatic acts where people are standing on top of one another balancing themselves — each person represents an important part of your life. You want to keep them all up there without anyone falling. Not so easy, is it?

To really appreciate and enjoy what you have, balancing the many aspects of your life is essential, but many people aren’t very good at it. I was one of those people in my first marriage. I was wrapped up in my business and not spending enough time and energy on my marriage. In the end, the marriage blew up.

I admit, it’s hard to say no to business when it comes knocking at your door, especially when you’re selling real estate and a qualified buyer comes along. However, if you don’t know when to put the brakes on and slow down, you may find yourself out of control and missing out on a lot of your life.

Many people get a taste of success and they want to scale it, so they just dive into it 24/7. The next thing they know, 10 years have gone by and they’ve built a huge empire but lost sight of everything else. They realise that their spouse is now their ex, their kids are now teenagers, other family members, as well as friends, have moved on, and they’ve missed so much of their personal life that not even money can buy it back.

So, how do you balance work, family and everything else? For one thing, you need to accept that you have to make many compromises, have a positive attitude and know that it can be done.

Balancing businesses

business-balance

Besides running my own business, Leyla and I are partners in her business. Warning: This type of arrangement will not work for all couples, but it can work well, provided you clarify your positions and respect each other’s roles.

The trick is knowing how to combine, and then separate, business and marriage. For example, Leyla and I sometimes have to go to Los Angeles for meetings or to an expo or a beauty show in Las Vegas. We take the opportunity to make a full weekend out of it, working at the event and then going out on the town.

At home, we have date nights at least once a week, even if all we do is grab a quick dinner and then come back home. It’s important to break the routine and put business aside. On weekends, Leyla’s business is closed and I don’t work, and we spend time with our kids. We try to make time for each of our top priorities: our family, each other and our work.

Unfortunately, when you’re working together and discussing, or sometimes arguing, about business during the day, it’s difficult to switch gears when you get home and shift into husband-and-wife mode. We try to be careful to stop ourselves without letting the day spill over into our personal life together.

I’ll admit, however, that it does take some practice, learning how to turn the switch off before you leave the office to go home. But in time it gets easier. You need to set some rules together, then make sure you’re both on board with those rules.

Related: 6 Secrets Smart Leaders Employ To Achieve Work-Life Balance

Hobbies and passions: cars and cigars

You also need time for your hobbies. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved exotic cars. I bought my first exotic car in 1992, a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. Fast-forward 10 years, and I had started falling in love with Ferraris as well as Porsches. I have continued collecting cars, and I now have 15 cars.

Even though they’re a hobby, I have an entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to my passion for cars. In fact, I view them in a similar way that I do great pieces of property, though I’d prefer to keep them than sell to the highest bidder. To me, they’re like works of art that I view as investments, knowing that they’re of great value.

Cars aren’t my only passion, though. It’s important to have some passions that you can enjoy away from work, from family and from everything else. You also want some alone time. For example, I also own a cigar lounge (www.CubanoRoom.com) where I can go to relax by myself or meet another successful member while smoking a fine cigar.

I treat my passions like a business because that’s who I am — I enjoy them and also make money – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you enjoy bicycling, you don’t have to go and open a bicycle store. You can simply find a group of riders, do some travelling and have fun.

It’s important to fit some alone time into your busy balancing act. We all need some moments when we escape from everyone and everything. The best thing to do is figure out what makes you happy and balance the hustle of your busy life with your own passion.

Related: How To Work 10 Hours Less Each Week

Extended family

Family time is so important to me, both as a father and as a member of an extended family. Besides spending time with Leyla and my children, I see my parents often. I bought them a ranch about 90 miles away from Newport Beach back in 2004. Now they visit us every Friday or Saturday – we have a barbecue and play backgammon or cards.

We also see Leyla’s mom and sister often. Her mom still works as a registered nurse and lives in Beverly Hills. Leyla’s sister is nearby in San Diego where she works for a company called Houzz, an online community for home construction, landscape design, home improvement, repairs and so forth.

Leyla and I both recognise the importance of having our extended family nearby and making time to spend together. Otherwise, time goes by quickly, and you suddenly realise that it’s been years since you spent some quality time together.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Join The Mustang Revolution

Experience the dream and take it for a test drive today.

Ford

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Every new Mustang brings a renewal, of the human spirit, the open road, and the wanderlust that exists within us all. For over 5 decades, America’s legendary Pony car has delivered countless moments of pure exhilaration.

The new Mustang is loaded with bravado, coiled with confidence. It honours this authentic lineage – by launching it forward, with advanced new technology that allows for a level of personalisation not seen before. But very familiar to a new generation of free spirits, who refuses stereotypes, encourage self-expression. Are you ready for this?

The evolution of the mustang

How do you reinvent a car that’s more than a car: An icon that forever changed the landscape of the automotive industry? You don’t. You just make it better. You bring it back to its original roots in a modern way. You create something that’s instantly classic and completely new. 50 years on, we’ve breathed new life into a legend.

Legends who choose to partner with the legend

jay-leno-mustang

Jay Leno, the former king of American late-night television, is known to be an avid car collector. In his collection is a 1965 Shelby Mustang GT 350, one of Americas most desirable muscle cars.

President Bill Clinton owned a 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible before he entered office. He said he found it hard to leave the car behind in Arkansas when he moved into the White House.

Charlie Sheen, veteran actor of the big and small screen, also owned several Mustangs. A Classic 1966 Mustang GT was once on display at Galpin Auto Sport in Calif. Another of his Mustangs, a 1968 Shelby, was featured in the movie ‘Money Talks’.

Patrick Dempsey loves his Mustangs. He loves them so much he raced a specially-built Mustang FR500C in the Grand-Am Road Racing KONI series. When he’s not on the race track he’s the proud owner of a 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe, which was featured at the 2007 SEMA Show.

Jim Morrison reportedly only ever owned a 1967 Nightmist Blue Shelby GT 500. The car was a gift from Electra Records, but rumour has it that he wrapped the car around a telephone pole, and it was never seen again.

Sammy Hagar, former lead singer of iconic rock band Van Halen, is the former owner of a 1967 Shelby GT500. He’s also the owner of the first GCM-R Mustang, one of 100 custom built by Gateway Classic Mustang.

Tim Allen reportedly has a USD50 000 hyper-customised Mustang, which does 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, reaching the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds and can achieve top speeds of 184 mph.

Bob Seger is known for his love of muscle cars from the 1960’s and 70’s. Included in his collection are a Mach 1 Mustang and a classic GT350.

Kelly Clarkson is a lover and owner of Mustang’s. She prominently features a red/white striped GT500 in her music video ‘Go’, she is also rumoured to have owned a hot pink Mustang.

Eminem reportedly bought a brand new 1999 Mustang Convertible with his first royalty cheque after becoming a worldwide superstar.

Related: How To Build A Lot Of Wealth Starting From Zero

Iconic Design

mustang-interior

There’s a certain feeling you get when you start the engine and hear Mustang’s iconic growl for the first time. The Mustang’s design is just as thrilling.

The Cockpit

Taking inspiration from classic airplane cockpits, the Mustang struck a balance between analogue dials and digital feedback. The gear shifter is optimally placed. And the steering wheel just feels right in your hands, for a dynamic driving experience.

The Body

Everything about the Mustang’s design makes your jaw drop. The sharp HID headlamps and signature tri-bar taillamps. The front end that screams energy. The sleek, lean and low body. The improved aerodynamics. Designed with a passion for the legend that is Mustang – this is as good as it gets.

Innovative Technology

SYNC®3 is a responsive, fully integrated, voice activation system that lets you use your favourite devices while your hands stay on the wheel and your eyes stay safely on the road. Sync your phone to call your friends, play your favourite music or find the perfect temperature with hands-free Climate Control.

Seamless integration via programs like Apple CarPlay™ allow you choice on how to remain connected to your world. Equipped with a customisable 8” Colour LCD capacitive Touch Screen; SYNC®3 is quicker and more responsive than ever before.

Rear View Camera

Trouble with parallel parking or reversing into tight spaces? No problem. Ford’s Rear View Camera lets you see behind you. And the Rear Parking Sensors beep to let you know how close you are to objects behind you. The system even turns the music down, so you can hear the beep clearly.

Keyless Entry and Push-button Start

We can’t find your keys for you, but as long as you have the key fob on you, you’re ready to go. Simply unlock the driver’s door with a touch of the handle. To start her up, just put your foot on the brake, press the START/STOP button and you’re away.

Related: How To Build Organisational Wealth Through Increased Efficiency

Performance

Mustang has unleashed two engine options, 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 and 2.3L EcoBoost® both marvels of engineering.

2.3L EcoBoost Engine

The EcoBoost model features the twin-scroll turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost engine, giving you exhilarating performance with reduced fuel consumption.

5.0L V8 Engine

The Mustang GT’s 5.0L engine has been expertly engineered to maximize power from every compression.

Boasting strong power and torque, Mustang GT’s engine roar and wide-eyed acceleration are the stuff of the legends

Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)

Electric Power Assisted Steering adjusts to provide you with greater control in a range of road and weather conditions, and even crosswinds and potholes. And it only activates when needed, saving you fuel. Best of all, you’re in control. Choose between three power-assisted settings to adjust steering effort: comfort, sport and normal.

6-Speed SelectShift with Paddle Shifters

Mustang’s SelectShift gives you the thrill of using a manual transmission with the ease of an automatic. Simply toggle the race car-inspired Paddle Shifters on the steering wheel to shift gears up or down, for smooth and effortless gear changes.

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Work Life Balance

How To Accomplish More In 4 Days Than Most People Do In 4 Weeks

Practice and self-control are key.

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We all know that it takes hard work to achieve our goals. And in the world of business and entrepreneurship, we often hear how we must be willing to sacrifice weeks, months, even years of slaving away to suceed.

But what if we’re all just doing it wrong? What if there was a way to accomplish a huge to-do list in less than half the time it would normally take? Barring the discovery of a time machine or a wormhole, you might say this is impossible. But with a little practice and self-control, it’s possible to get to the finish line before most people even start the race.

1. Use the 80/20 rule

The Pareto principle is a universal truth that can help us recognise where to focus our efforts to be most productive. The basic rule of thumb works like this: 80 percent of results will come from just 20 percent of the action. In other words, roughly 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your total profits. Likewise, about 20 percent of your daily tasks account for your most important and time-consuming projects. The remaining 80 percent of daily tasks are relatively low-level functions and less important undertakings.

Having a laser-like focus on those top 20 percent of tasks is the most valuable use of your time. Once those tasks are complete, you can work on the bottom 80 percent, or delegate those tasks to others. Keep yourself on track by always asking yourself: “Is this one of my top 20 percent most important activities, or is this a bottom 80 percent task?”

The same goes with other areas of your business. Focus on strengthening your relationship with the 20 percent of people who are your money makers: Those who are consistently working hard for you or are your top clientele.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

2. Break big tasks into manageable chunks

workload-balance

Procrastination often hits us when we’re feeling overwhelmed. We avoid starting a huge project because it feels daunting and we can’t imagine how we’ll tackle it. So stop trying to take on monster-sized jobs.

Break tasks into manageable pieces so you’re just taking on one small task at a time. Make sure your to-do list is broken into tasks that can be accomplished relatively quickly – a half hour or less. Then start using a stopwatch to kick your focus into high gear.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself you must stay totally focused until it goes off. You’ll be shocked by how much you can accomplish! And once you’ve finished the allotted time, you may be motivated to keep going – how much more can you do in another 20 minutes?

3. Outsource tasks to focus on your talents

Most of us are really good at a handful of things, and are average or OK at everything else. The best use of your time is to focus on the areas where you’re strongest. If you can hand the other tasks off to someone else, you’ll have more time to focus on the tasks you’re best at. You can do this by outsourcing jobs that you don’t excel in.

Outsourcing might mean hiring someone or using a form of automation technology. Tasks that may be easy to outsource include web developer, content writer, graphic designer or a general virtual assistant, who can ease the burden of many daily tasks such as setting appointments or returning emails.

Related: 14 Of The Best Morning Routine Hacks Proven To Boost Productivity

4. Understand your natural rhythms

natural-rhythms

What time of the day do you have the most energy? When are you most creative? In order to be efficient and make the most of your productivity, you have to know how to manage your energy. You have to understand your body’s natural timetable. Is there a time of day when you always feel in a slump or a time when you feel raring to go? Prioritise important tasks to those times when you know your mind is alert.

In order for this to work, you must have established routines. This will help you create a pattern so you can observe your natural rhythms. When you know you’re at your best, focus on detail-oriented and difficult tasks. And remember to give yourself breaks to keep your energy level high throughout the day.

5. Cut out distractions

Your ability to focus is key to your productivity and getting more done in a short amount of time. Researchers have found that it takes a typical office worker 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Work interruptions also decrease accuracy by 20 percent.

By eliminating distractions, you’re giving yourself back all that wasted time. Try scheduling chunks of uninterrupted time that allow you to dive into a project. And as much as possible, avoid leaving things half done. If you start something, finish it! Each day, set goals you want to accomplish and then make it happen.

Your smartphone is one of the biggest distractions. The average person can’t leave their phone alone for six minutes, and most of us check it up to 150 times per day! So if you need to be hyper-focused on something, work on one screen at a time. Turn off your smartphone notifications or try putting your phone away for periods of time.

6. Focus on one thing at a time

monotasking

We used to think multitasking could help us accomplish more, but we now know that the human brain wasn’t designed to focus on more than one thing at once. However, most of us find ourselves toggling between web pages, email, text messages and the task at hand, and then we wonder why we never seem to get anything done. It’s time to start monotasking.

Monotasking, also known as single-tasking, is about focusing on one thing at a time so we get more done. It requires you to break your multitasking habits. Because we live in a highly connected world, that’s not always easy or even possible for every task. But monotasking allows you to get into deep work, where you can really focus on a demanding task.

Try setting aside two to four hours daily when you can focus on one thing without interruption. It may take a while to develop this skill, but eventually you’ll be able to engage both sides of your brain to make incredible breakthroughs that have an impact on your business.

Related: Your Narcissism Is Killing Your Employees’ Productivity. How To Avoid The Pitfalls

7. Capture stray thoughts

It can be annoying when a tantalising thought enters your brain when you’re in the middle of doing something else. “I need to remember to this!” you tell yourself. And then you try to set the thought aside, while simultaneously trying to remember it.

As you may have learned from experience, trying to remember a thought while you’re involved in a task often fails. However, if you write it down you can truly let it go, knowing you can reexamine it later. You close the loop. If you rely on memory, you’re either wasting energy trying to remember it, or you forget it completely and lose the value of that idea. Either way, it’s a waste.

Make sure you capture these random thoughts and ideas, either in a notebook or in an app that you always have handy. This can be part of a massive, ongoing brain dump that you can refer back to and will ensure that you don’t lose that lightning bolt of genius, or forget that you need to pick your suit up from the cleaner. Just be sure to review your notes on a regular basis!

8. Sleep, eat and breathe

It’s nearly impossible to be hyper-productive if you’re feeling exhausted, hungry or overwhelmed. It’s important that we continue to engage in self-care, even when we’re slammed at work or are feeling overwhelmed with projects. You’re not a machine – you need rest, food and a clear mind to perform well. That means ditching junk food and fast food, and nourishing your body with healthy meals and snacks. It means getting a solid eight hours of sleep at night, exercising during the day and carving out time for mental breaks.

Taking even a few minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing or to meditate can help you clear your mind. Another option is to go for a quick power walk or take the stairs rather than the elevator in your office building. These activities will help reinvigorate you so you can focus. Think of it as a reboot for your brain.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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