Finding Myself. The Real Stuff

Anton Guinea sitting at a table

This year is my 50th on planet earth, and on October 24 of this year, I will no longer be in my 40s. For me, that will be a major milestone, and one that I am already thinking about… or maybe stressing about. I think the reason that it is becoming important is I am feeling both excited, and nervous, all at the same time.

The excitement first

Actually, let’s do gratitude first (a slight digression). Apart from my wife, my kids and our fur baby, the thing that I am most grateful for in my life is my ability to learn and to share information that can help others. Some people are blind, and struggle to read books. Some people are deaf, and struggle to listen to audio books. I don’t have either of these challenges. Some people struggle to learn, or struggle with their concentration (I should admit here that ADHD has always been something that I thought might be an issue – a friend diagnosed me with it over a beer recently – but that is another story). Again, I really don’t struggle to learn, and as I get older, I am finding it is not yet getting any harder… thankfully.

Gratitude has become a big part of my life. I journal daily and take note of the 5 things that I am grateful for every day. But it’s not just once a day that I do that – gratitude is an all-day affair, and if you can look at something or someone and be grateful in the moment, you can change your mood in an instant. I call it the NOW approach. Right now, this is what I am grateful for. There has been a lot of research done on gratitude, and its benefits for happiness, resilience and overall wellbeing, suffice to say that it is a game changer for those that do it regularly and with purpose. If you want to start practicing gratitude, please email me, for a free electronic copy of my NOW Gratitude Journal, that you can use to get started.

Back to excitement.

I am excited about 2022. This is the year where the world will come out of the pandemic. This is the year that people will start to come to grips with what has happened over the last two years, and people will start to unpack what it all means. The great resignation will continue to take hold, at least until everyone’s emotional state, and their desire for change subsides somewhat.

I am excited to be able to help leaders everywhere with their emotional health, and their leadership under pressure. My predictions for leadership in 2022 are that leaders will need to engage their teams in a way that really helps them feel valued (not just a mission statement on the wall) – leaders will need to increase their emotional intelligence in 2022. They will also need to be more socially responsible and more technologically savvy.

But most importantly, they will need to work on their mental health and resilience. And I am excited to be part of the solution, and part of the process that will help leaders unpack how they feel, what that really means, and why, and help them to make sense of the stress, the pressure and the duress that comes with leading other humans. I am excited that it is becoming more socially acceptable to talk about how and why we are struggling, and that leaders are reaching out for support. I really feel that leaders have the most important role (apart from family roles) on planet earth, but they are sometimes forgotten when it comes to their mental state. We just expect that they are doing fine, and they will soldier on. Leaders feel the pressure just as much as their teams do… but it is the team members that we look at first and care for (and so we should). But with better leader support, they can provide better team support.

I once worked for a leader who had zero emotional control. He would fly off the handle, and get abusive, aggressive, and abrupt. I was a leader reporting to him at the time, and I didn’t realise in the moment how much I struggled with being treated like that. It took me years to process it, and to understand that the person in question, just did not have the skills to control his emotions. And it hurt others. I am excited now, 20 years later, to be on a journey that helps leaders to create conscious control, and to be easier on themselves and easier on their teams.

The nervousness next

It is not all beer and skittles, so to speak, inside my head. About six years ago, I struggled with anxiety. For 100 days. How do I know it was 100 days…? I was big into triathlons back then, and one day I could not get my body moving into a run, a ride, or a swim. I could walk, but that was it. Some days, I couldn’t even do that. I kept it fairly private and am still suffering through some of the shame, blame and guilt that goes with mental health challenges. The issue was that we had collapsed financially. And it was my fault. We had to start again in our 40s due to some poor business and investment decisions. To compound that, I felt that it was very superficial to be so down about something as simple as financial challenges. People have cancer, right, and here I was spending mental energy feeling sorry for myself. That is not the only mental struggle that I have had. I spent 10 years trying to understand why I stuck a steel ruler in a switchboard at the age of 21, and nearly killed myself. That got me down majorly, and it would now be termed PTSD, but I reconciled that with myself and have come to terms with the fact that we make decisions in life that have consequences. You can’t change the past.

How I feel going into 2022 is not anxiety, thankfully, it is nervousness.

And not about our finances, but about being able to be the best human I can be. It is about delivering on my life’s purpose, which is to “leave people better than I found them”. Helping leaders create conscious control is part of this purpose. I have come to realise that ‘we can fix machines, but we can’t fix humans.’ As much as we would all like to be able to, when we see some suffering around us. The most common thing I hear from people when they are around someone who is suffering is that they couldn’t fix it for them. And you will never be able to. You can’t fix humans. I am nervous about my ability to be the best version of myself that I can be.

I am nervous that I don’t have all of the skills that I will need to make the difference that I want to on the planet this year. I am nervous that imposter syndrome will kick in and that I will falter and fail. I am nervous that I won’t be as empathetic as I need to be when the time comes. I am nervous that I will not be liked, and that I will get negative feedback at some stage (which of course will).

Given all of that, my commitment is to get up, dress up, and show up. And to channel my excitement more than my nervousness this year.

The purpose is important

For me, being on purpose has always been important, especially in relation to the work that I do. It is heart work, and it needs to be done with care factor and connection.

A lot of people, and leaders, struggle to find their purpose in life. It is a hard thing to do, but when you do, it will be worth it.

For me, leaving people better than I found them, is simply why I do what I do. Again, I can’t fix anyone, but I can brighten their day just a little bit. I used to take this purpose to the next level and feel like I needed to make people happy. It is not happiness that I am trying to help people with. Been there, done that – and it is fraught with danger – genetically and environmentally, some people are on the glass half empty side. Which is cool. I can still help them to work through any challenge they might have when I come across their path, and make a small difference in the moment, in some small way.

See you in 2022! While I am still in my forties – just!

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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