Put Stress in Perspective, by being intentional with how you engage

We are bombarded by negativity everywhere we turn. Our children face it daily, as adults we deal with it and often, we are sucked into the news which is constantly hammering the negative. As small business owners, or leaders of large corporations there is anxiety about the decisions that need to be made and what the long-term impact of that will be personally, and for the company. Our society thrives on negative news and even as the USA surpasses 100,000,000 vaccinations, comments get made about how the government could be doing a better job. We are not even celebrating the 100,000,000.

My first career job was as a financial planner. I know that financial stress is one of the worst forms of stress to be under. As we build our business here in North Carolina, we have conversations with our children about the significant adjustments we have had to make because of the impact of Covid. It is not uncommon now for the eldest two girls to make comments like – “well we can wait before we buy that”, “dad I bought the least expensive of the two tables because it made sense to do that.”  Or “Dad I bought the more expensive item because it will wear better with what I have in my closet.”  Hearing my daughters making these types of decisions warms my heart. More importantly, they are realizing that the decisions they make have consequences which compounds anxiety or relieves it. I recognize this in them and praise them for making these responsible decisions – Good news for them to hear. 

It is the same in business. Are you having the right conversations and equipping the team to make the best decisions with the information on hand?  Are you doing the right activities, reaching out to the right profile of clients?

In business there are 3 common things that cause our stress:

  1. Overestimating our strengths – This is particularly bad if you think you are better than everyone else around you. Often I get in my own way by taking on tasks that distract me.  How many of us know leaders in large organizations that are still doing stuff and are not actually leading their team? We overcome this by identifying the strength in those around us and acknowledging those strengths. Communicate with them and recognize their value by allocating tasks to those strengths. This is great news and promotes engagement. Engaged teams take on stressful situations at work more proactively.
  2. Consistently seeking the approval of others – It is nice to be nice are words from a program graduate that rings in my head. I personally like to be liked and want to be perceived that way by others. This is a good trait to have so long as you are not just a people pleaser. Much like point one, if we say yes to everything, we will not be able to keep our commitments and end up losing favor with others. Learn to prioritize your own work and make decisions based on what it aligns to in your daily, weekly and monthly outcomes. Make decisions based on these and you will learn that saying NO is actually a good leadership trait and a strength many people will admire in you. Learning to say no will allow you to keep your personal commitments and result in less stress.
  3. Speak without thinking When we are highly stressed out, we may find that we are reacting in situations instead of responding. Basically, our mouths are moving but our minds are disengaged. As leaders we can be a buffer to the people’s stress or a contributor to it. Speaking without thinking often causes us to compound the stress of others. Many people out there feel that saying what you think is a mark of courage. In truth it is a mark of immaturity. Speak your mind by being kind (choice of words and are you adding value to the person), speaking the truth (are you stating facts) and consider if what your saying is the necessary (is now the right time). To simplify this ask yourself is it the right thing to say? Is it the right way to say it? and is it the right time to say it? The good news is that as you do this, you will find people will enjoy having you as their leader.

As we navigate through life with all this negativity going on around us it is important that we take command of our thought life and be intentional with how we put those very thoughts into words.   Doing so will enable us to put stress in perspective and be a beacon of encouragement and provide some good news for those around us.

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