I’d had 3 hours sleep. An energy-sapping day networking at a conference loomed large in my consciousness. I was fairly confident that I would be fine and get through the day. How did I know that? The benefits of having two young children have taught me that adrenaline will get me through these tough situations – regardless of the amount of sleep that I have had that night. In effect, I am self-medicating to get through my day.
Using (and occasionally abusing) adrenaline is just one of the ways we self-medicate to get through the day. Caffeine is another popular soft drug of choice. Do you routinely need a large cup of coffee in the morning to get going? This is self-medicating. This doesn’t become a problem until you HAVE to have caffeine or you can’t function properly during the day. I was speaking to a young partner at the conference who was regularly working 70-80 hour weeks. A normal day for him would start at 09:00 and he considered an early finish to be 20:00. As we talked, he enjoyed his espresso… and the penny dropped, he was self-medicating himself with caffeine to routinely put in the 12-14 hour days. No wonder he was a lousy sleeper and always tired.
Very often we push our concentration to the limit, just to be seen as a player at work. We expect that we can still be at the top of our game, 10 hours into a 12 hour working day. And we do this, day after day, after day. It’s no wonder that we need caffeine and adrenaline to keep us awake and alert, and tobacco and alcohol to help us distress and unwind at the end of the day.
Now, I’m focusing on ways in which we legally self-medicate to keep in the game at work. I am aware that it’s not unheard of for professionals to use harder and illegal drugs to maintain their hectic lifestyle. If your medication of choice has turned onto illegal substances, then I urge you to seek professional help for your problem.
Next time you rely on adrenaline to get you through the day, or caffeine to wake you up, or alcohol or a cigarette to relax you, ask yourself what you could do differently to prevent the need to self-medicate?
About Heather Townsend
Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).
Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.
Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms.
In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:
1) 7 people successfully to partner
2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world
As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:
1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services
2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+
3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years
4) Win bigger and better clients
5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about
Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.