Executive and Alcohol
So today’s video is for you. If you are an executive, a high performer, a high level, highly motivated individual in the workplace who is concerned about alcohol.
The fact that you may be drinking too much, it’s affecting your performance. It’s affecting your motivation, your energy levels your self esteem.
It’s affecting the way you influence others in the workplace. Maybe it’s affecting your values at a deep and core level. Any one of these things.
Because the problem is huge. The problem is vast. And so if this is you, I want you to completely ditch any shame, any guilt.
And any of that stuff because this is a problem. And like, you know, so many real problems it’s just kept hidden. It’s so veiled in shame. It’s so veiled in a lack of understanding.
My clients are those people. My clients are high-level, highly motivated vice presidents, presidents, business owners.
Running legal practices in London. These are the people who come to me because maybe there’s something in my messaging that resonates, I don’t know, but those are the kind of people who come to me.
And they are telling me when I speak to them on the phone because I have to speak to people before I know that you’re the right person to work with when we’re talking on the phone, I hear in their voices, I hear the shame.
The biggest thing I hear is I’m just exhausted with this. I don’t want to be doing this anymore, and yet I find myself doing it.
And by doing it I mean drinking. I don’t want to be drinking and yet I’m drinking, and very often it is affecting reputation in the workplace
So what that might look like is drinking too much, at corporate events, it might mean turning up to a zoom after you’ve had a whiskey or a large wine or whatever it might be with all the home working. Any one of those things, and then getting feedback afterwards. Subtle, maybe, not so subtle.
That the trust is beginning to get damaged. And at that point when the trust gets damaged, that’s when you start to fall back and wonder how to solve the problem. What’s gone wrong? What are you doing about it?
And why isn’t what I’m trying to do to cut down drinking actually working? That’s really another discussion. What I want to talk about today is that motivation and the values, the authenticity and the integrity which alcohol damages?
So let’s just dive straight in and think about the values.
And you can pause and just ask yourself, what are my values? What are my core values as a human being on this planet and as a human being in the workplace? As that executive, as that business owner that therefore manages others, manages resources, money, often a huge amount.
What are my values? And in all likelihood, you will come up with things like, well, I value integrity. I value honesty, I value trust.
I value that authenticity, those kinds of things. I value wisdom. I value creativity, growth.
Innovation, all of those things, maybe, maybe for you.
And so let’s look at where alcohol sits in that hole.
Conundrum, because it is a conundrum.
And what we will find is that alcohol because it’s when we drink and when we drink anymore than say, and I’ll say wine, a large glass of wine, I mean I’m in France right now. in the UK typically somebody going out drinking would have 250 mil of wine and that would be a glass.
And here in France it’s about 5 mil.
It’s a thimbleful and we think French are big drinkers. No, it’s just not the case. So any more than a glass of wine around about that size are logical.
Brain starts to shut down.
And what that means is our emotional regulation system starts to falter. It’s not working anymore. And what that means is that we will react, we will be triggered, we will say things that we would never say. When that part of our brain is working at full whack. We just wouldn’t.
And so what that means then is at that corporate event, you say something that you don’t mean you offend somebody.
You just step a little bit further than you would have done something that maybe bugged you in the day or the week about that guy, that woman. It comes up, it comes out.
And you’re just on full flow and you just don’t care at that point?
Until the next day, until the next board meeting, until the employees are there.
Either that all well, that’s enough, isn’t it? And so in terms of the values, that is not authentic because it’s not you.
Because that part of you is gone and you’re just reacting like a wild animal with instinct.
And we know where that gets, gets us.
And so integrity, is out the window. Honesty is actually out of the window because any honesty judgments under the influence of alcohol are not true. They are just swollen. They are just full of fight flight responses.
So it’s not honesty. It might feel like it at the time, but it really isn’t. It’s not integrity, it’s not value. It’s not wisdom, it’s not creativity, it’s not any of those things that you might have come up with when you would just stopped and thought, what are my values?
It’s none of that and so what that does is at a very, very deep level, it affects your own perception of self.
And that leads to an incredibly painful and deep-seated inner conflict.
You know, occasionally we’ll have a conflict with the world out there, with somebody out there. But when that conflict is internal, when that conflict is with self, then any expansion that we might have in our world and our life and our job and whatever is irrelevant because what we are doing is we are shrink wrapping ourselves.
There can be no nothing more shrinkwrapped. There can be nothing more tight restrictive limiting than being in absolute conflict with ourself.
You know, we all are, a bit of the time anyway, whether alcohol’s there or not, but when alcohol comes into it, it is completely internalised. Nobody outside may see it, but you know it.
It is painful. And then also we probably said somewhere in our values, trust. I value trust if you have employees, if you have members of a team, then trust is absolutely vital and anything that happens under the influence of alcohol, whether it’s an e-mail with an error that went out because you’ve been drinking at home, or sent it late at night. Or banged it off to somebody in a fit of a, you know, 2 whisky 3 whisky induced rage, whatever trust.
And once that thread of trust is broken it takes a long time to rebuild it. So alcohol goes against our value system at a very, very deep level, causing deep deep internal conflict, self loathing, self hatred. It’s horrible.
The good news is that the conundrum of alcohol can be unpicked. You know, if you are that person, then you are strong, you’re intelligent, and we can use all of those things to kind of ambush this.
You know, rather than fighting it head to head, we can go alongside it and move it off in a different direction. A bit like Aikido.
So that is the way to deal with this. It is a perceptual problem, anything about alcohol, ultimately it is a perceptual problem, it is a psychological problem, but it’s really one of perception.
All drugs are taken to enhance or relieve life.
That’s true of heroin, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol. And so initially, and I’m digressing a little, but it’s relevant initially in your early days of work, you may have been going out to drink with the gang to keep up, to keep in with the with the tribe. And so it would have maybe started from there and then maybe it was a stressful day and maybe you stopped at the bar on the way home, just to relieve the stress of the day.
Or maybe it was working from home, a stressful meeting, or just have a quickie and then it’s-
I’m at home and I’m stressed. I’ve arrived. Now I can dive into the bottle.
And so it is, it is attempting to relieve, but actually it’s not because otherwise you wouldn’t be listening. We wouldn’t be having this conversation because it doesn’t actually relieve at all. It causes the conflict so it affects us at the very deepest levels of our values.
It affects our motivation because we’ve just become exhausted with all of this internal conflict and the I won’t drink and I am drinking, I won’t drink, but I deserve it. It’s been a hard day. I just need it.
I need it. That is then hijacking the survival instinct of the human being, which is you I need it.
That is a survival response and so highly motivated people that you would be you are highly motivated people make highly motivated drinkers because, and I’m highly motivated myself, so I get it. I was that person. So therefore driven, driven to get what is desired.
And the perception is that alcohol is that.
So highly motivated people make highly motivated drinkers. So that is another conundrum in that if you are in a lazy, well, can’t be bothered really.
But it’s not that it’s I want it, I’m going to have it. And so that is why if you are strong willed, that is why that doesn’t work. And what I mean by that is I hear all the time.
I had a vice president on the phone and she said I’ve been out corporate event drunk too much, made a fool of myself.
But I don’t get it because I’m strong willed. I am highly motivated. And I said that’s part of the problem.
Because that will, will just make you say if I want to drink, I’m going to have one, and so we need to work alongside that, use it to get you to where you want to be back in alignment with your values, and so values, motivation, and then we have performance.
Well, of course, if we’re in a in a conflict on any level, how can we possibly, how can you possibly be working at your peak?
It’s impossible because alcohol wrecks sleep. It causes stress and anxiety. It causes overwhelm. It causes internal conflict that I’ve been talking about.
It affects motivation in a negative way because actually it hijacks the natural dopamine cycle. So actually you’ll find you may not recognise it, but you will be less motivated, towards other targets and goals in life because alcohol is hijacking it, so it affects performance in that way.
It affects performance because you wake up in the morning and you’ve got a hangover and you’re dealing with all that again.
So then you add on the fact that your values are misaligned and or struggling for alignment all of the time.
You may be over compensating in other areas, you may be over trying to compensate with your team, or you may be over trying to prove yourself or whatever it might be.
It’s not you in your flow. It’s not you at your best, it can never be. And so if there’s any question of, well, you know, I have a couple of drinks and I’m functioning fine. No, you won’t be.
Categorically you won’t be.
For all of these reasons and so you’ll be loading down coffee. And I’m saying this because that was me going into the Cabinet Office in London to do the work I was doing at the time.
Hangover. Coffee, coffee, coffee. And I feel OK now. Until evening. Oh, I just deserve a wine. Round we go. Wake up coffee.
Slap myself round the face. Cold water, feeling inauthentic, pushing, pushing, pushing to try to overcome all that.
Peace is what you get outside of that, because it is an inside.
If you’re inside it, you’re inside it, and right now you may not be able to see how you can be outside it, and that’s OK all you need to do is say I want to be outside it.
And I don’t know how right now, but I’m going to find out.
Hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of top flight executives are in this trap, more so because of COVID. And the reason for that is when when we were it was nine to five, nine till 8-9 till 10, whatever hours you were working.
Outside and in in office. Then there was a boundary, a natural boundary. Well, I can’t drink now ’cause I’m in the office. And when those boundaries go.
Then the opportunity arises. It’s why I have a lot of clients who are actually retired, who find themselves drinking more in retirement because the boundaries slip and go. And then you’re drinking at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, then 1:00 o’clock, and then it’s lunchtime and then, you know, maybe it’s 11:00 o’clock, and that that is just the way it is. Insipid.
Always chasing the rainbow, always needing more, getting less of a result, which is what we don’t want for a high performing person.
What I want for you is to do less being flow and get better results and you can do that outside of the alcohol trap. So I hope that’s been helpful. I’ve talked about values, I’ve talked about motivation.
And I’ve also talked about performance.
And I just want to finish off by saying if this is you just to reinforce it’s not your fault.
Anybody who takes enough of an addictive substance, particularly highly motivated people, are likely to fall into the trap and so the best way to live is outside it.
You take care.
Hi, I'm Michela
I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!
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