Category: Overcoming Anxiety (page 1 of 3)

A Positive Attitude Can Overcome Any Problem

When problems are piling up and you feel like you are deep in a negative spiral a positive attitude can not only lift you up but it can lift up your whole team.

It can be difficult to find the positive in a negative situation but it is essential to overcoming any problem.

The more we focus on the negative the more we shut ourselves off to the potential solutions to the problem. It is hard to see the possibilities under a pile of garbage.

So how do you regain your positive attitude when things are going wrong?

First, start with a concern for other people. When we take the focus off ourselves, and our own problems, and look for ways to help others it helps put a new spin on the problem. It forces us to step outside ourselves and see a larger reality.

When we focus on others we see the problem through their eyes which will cause us to gain a new perspective on the issue.

It also changes our attitude from one of self-pity to one of service. This can be empowering. When we realize we have the power to make our little world better and improve the situation of other people, we quit feeling pity for ourselves and start acting in a positive manner.

Helping other people also fills us with positive feelings. When we have a positive impact on others their gratitude fills us with gratitude. It may be cliché but you get what you give.

For more on this see – The People Connections – Making for a Happy Workplace.

Second, practice gratitude. No matter how bad things are you always have something to be grateful for no matter how small.

Make a list – either write it down or mentally. Identify at least five things that you are grateful for. Focus on how those good things make you feel. Think about what life would be like without those things.

Gratitude can fuel a soul at the worst of times and empower us to see the world through a more positive lens.

Third, think back to another difficult situation or problem you have faced in the past. Realize that no matter what the problem you have faced similar situations in the past before and survived.

Focus on the temporary nature of problems. This will help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Consider what you did to overcome past problems and how you felt once they were overcome. Stay focused on the positive outcomes.

Like anything in life, good things come when we put in the effort and the work. Regaining a positive attitude when things are going wrong isn’t easy. It is much simpler to wallow in our own misery and wait for the situation to clear. The only problem is by doing that the outcome will not be good.

Instead, make the effort to change your attitude. To focus on the good. Focus on others. Be grateful. And remember, you have been here before and survived.

Dealing with Upper Management Decisions as a Middle Manager

How do you deal with the results of upper management decisions as a middle manager?

Dealing with the decisions of other people and their affects is something we have to deal with on a daily basis. Most times it is the decisions of our direct reports that we have to deal with. But what do you do when a decision made by upper management causes problems?

How do you tell the boss they are wrong?

When upper management makes decisions that negatively impact the organization it can really put middle managers, who are forced to deal with the outcome, in a tight spot. It’s not like you can tell the boss that they were wrong. If you can then be thankful you work in an organization that respects the benefits of honesty.

By the way never tell the boss they are wrong. Even if they are be a little tactful about it. Ask them questions that will help them to think more fully about their decision. Try to help them see better alternatives. But never come right out and just say “no, I think your wrong”. This accomplishes nothing but create distrust and a lack of respect.

For a lot of managers, especially those who work in large organizations, it is a real political hot potato deciding how to communicate the effects of bad choices.

In order to move up in your career as a manager you are expected to make politically correct decisions. That includes being a team player and getting with the program. But what if falling in line is bad for the organization?

Letting go of the need to be in control

I am the type of person who likes to feel in control of my own destiny. I don’t like it when I have to deal with what I perceive of as poor decisions. When other people put me in a situation that will compromise my success I get very stressed. Beating around the bush and saying the politically expedient thing are not my strong points. Being straight forward and telling the truth despite who it might upset is my default position.

Unfortunately, being straightforward and unapologetic in my honesty are not always traits that are appreciated in some organizations. Often managers are expected to be more tactful in how they handle disagreement. I get it, I just don’t always like it.

I need to learn to let go of the need to be in control when it will be detrimental to my career. That is so hard for me. If I feel I am right, and trying to do the right thing for the organization, why should I change my tact? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how I feel about it. If I want to succeed in my organization then I need to change my tact and that might require me to let go of being in control. I may have to cede my own desires and beliefs in the rightness of my position.

This doesn’t mean that I am compromising my values. It means that I understand what battles are worth fighting and which ones I need to walk away from. It is foolish to take on a fight you can’t win and that will damage your career unless it is something so fundamental that giving in would cause you to do something immoral or illegal. If it does not then get over it and move on. There will be other battles worth fighting and winning.

Be a team player but help others to see the shortcomings

Understand that you need to be a team player. Even if you don’t fully agree with a decision you have to support it. Don’t ever negatively of a decision made by upper management  when talking with your subordinates. You can respectfully voice concerns while still supporting the larger initiative. Always let your people know that as a team you need to do your best to make the initiative successful. Support your people when it doesn’t go right, but never throw a negative light on those who made the decision.

Help those who made the decision understand the problems that are the outgrowth of the decision. Always be respectful and present facts. Avoid emotional pleas. Never allow it to be personal. Keep the focus on what you can prove. Be willing to reconsider your position if new facts come to light and always be willing to work with upper management to come up with solutions to fix the problems and help the overall initiative be successful.

You don’t have to like it but you may have to accept it

You aren’t going to agree with every decision made by upper management. Remember that not every decision you make is a winner. Your direct reports might have some insight into decisions you made that they disagreed with. But just because you don’t agree with a decision doesn’t mean that you don’t have to support it. If you are part of any organization sooner or later you are going to have to support things that you think are incorrect. Pick your battles wisely and make sure you are only fighting the ones that are really worth fighting. If you do this you will find yourself feeling less stressed and more able to let go. For more on the subject of letting go of things you can’t control see my post Gain Control By Letting Go.

Resisting the Urge to Control

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Resisting the urge to control circumstances is one of my biggest weaknesses.

I want to be able to control my environment and be in charge. It is the human failure of thinking that no one can do it as well as I can.

Most of us feel this way most of the time – if you want something done right, do it yourself.

There isn’t a more unproductive or uninspiring way to lead. We need to trust other people and empower them to do what needs to get done.

It may not be comfortable giving up control, but it can be freeing. If I can focus my energy on more important items and let others take some of the workload off from me why shouldn’t I?

This is not as easy as it sounds. What if people mess up? Or what if they don’t do as good a job as I would have done? What if they do it better than me?

Insecurity is a part of being human. We have to let go of our own egos and allow others to succeed. It is the success of others that lifts us up.

When other do well it is a reflection of the leader. It shows trust, empowerment, and good decision-making. The leader who insist on doing everything themselves, or having it done their way, is just displaying insecurity in their own ability.

A good leader leads in spite of their insecurities.

Leading while feeling inadequate is tough. There is a certain amount of neurosis that comes along with being a manager. It is lonely and demanding. You have to live with your internal conflicts and criticisms, those of your boss, and also the critique of the people you are in charge of leading.

I am amazed that I am able to hold it together some days. It helps to have a good sense of humor and not take myself too seriously.

Trust others. Quite seeing yourself as smarter than everybody else. And admit when you need help. Allow others to use their skills and talents. Be willing to accept that other people’s ideas and methods are just as valid as yours.

There is enough stress in life without adding to it by thinking you have to take it all on by yourself.

 

Beating the Management Blues

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Sometimes we can get discouraged and down due to the number of issues and problems we have to deal with on a daily basis. Projects that have gone wrong, quality issues, people problems, and just maintaining all the many priorities that need our attention can leave us feeling down and frustrated.

Being a manager or supervisor can be a thankless job where we are trapped between the interests of upper management and the concerns of the line workers. We are asked to serve both interest even at times where they conflict. And finding a middle path between the two is a great challenge.

It is no wonder then that we can feel torn and unappreciated as we try to balance the many interests that we are required to serve.

So what can we do to alleviate the stress and anxiety that accompanies these many pulls on our energies and time?

In work, as in our personal lives, the best way to overcome these feelings of frustration and discouragement is to do good for others. We need to detach from our own feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and doubt and find strength and positive energy in bringing some good to the lives of others.

Many studies have been done that show the positive effects that serving others can have on our own sense of well-being (http://time.com/4070299/secret-to-happiness/). As manager’s our lives revolve around serving others, whether the employers we work for, or the people that we manage. And by embracing that service we can separate from our self-absorbing and negative feelings.

In times of stress and worry we can turn our attention from our inner struggles to reach out in service to others and deepen our commitment to the organizations and people we manage. It might seem counter-intuitive to attempt to deepen one’s interaction with the very thing that is causing the stress, but the stress is more often caused by what we avoid rather than the action of confronting the issues.

Stress is about unmet needs and the fear of the unknown. By reaching out to, and engaging others, we set ourselves on a path of engagement and action which can negate the very things that are causing our stress and anxiety.

By not avoiding your responsibilities, and embracing the service you provide, you strengthen your relationships, engage the issues, and create positive outcomes by meeting challenges head on.

Next time you are feeling stressed out don’t avoid people. Get out on the floor, out and about in your work area and engage people. Talk to them, joke with them, share their concerns and interests. Find a way to serve others. You may find that the answer to your problems is out there among the people. It may be that all you needed to do is tap the ideas of others, to share something of yourself and seek out the help of others. And it is by serving others that they are more likely to return the favor and offer help to you.

You will find that your stress level will start to decrease the more you engage with others and that the solution to whatever problem is troubling you exists among the people you manage and work with, and that others have common problems and stress, and that in sharing these common issues you can find resolution and peace.

Avoid the feeling of wanting to retreat and pull inward. Often it is our own limiting beliefs and negative attitudes that hold us back. When we face stress, the temptation is to continue to feed the negative energy and find joy in feeling upset. Resist this urge by forcing yourself out into the work place and interacting with others. Solitude often breeds discontent while being out in the world creates a sense of community and shared interest.

As a manager you are not alone and do not need to carry the stress of the workplace on your shoulders. You have the ability to affect the lives of those you work with in a very positive manner, and in realizing the positive affects you can have on the lives of others, it can free you from your own problems and allow you to interact with others in a positive manner, thus allowing you a positive outlet for relieving your stress, finding fulfillment to your needs, and meeting challenges head on.

Be a person of value and serve others. Make those connections that will fill your work with meaning and purpose. Realize that it is this meaning and purpose that will alleviate your stress and give you the strength to overcome whatever problems you face.

The Problems and Possibilities of People

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In my last post I talked about the problems of dealing with people as a manager and the fact that this is one of the most challenging aspects of management. This theme is so pervasive in this line of work that I want to get into it a little more. The possibilities of our people hold the key to finding solutions to problems.
I have a lot of days that start with people not getting along, people complaining, or people who don’t seem to be doing what is required of them. We all have this happen – we just show up to the office and we don’t even get our coats off, or our computer turned on, and somebody is already complaining or expecting you to drop everything to solve their problem.

What do you do?

Well, you could get mad and tell them to figure it out on their own. You could just react and go after the first person to cross your path and take it out on them. Or, you could stop, listen, and then ask for time to consider the problem.
As annoying as it can be to be bombarded with problems first thing in the morning, consider how your reaction will impact your relationship with the people you manage. If you allow yourself to lose your cool and scream and yell, you will lose all credibility with the people you manage. They will be less likely to come to you with problems, either good or bad, in the future.

Find the positive

When people come to you with their issues you should look at it in a positive light – at least they are letting you know what the problems are and seeking resolution. The alternative is that no one says anything and you can deal with it when it gets so completely out of hand that you need to take drastic measures.
When people come to you to complain they are letting you know where their stress points are, and often those same stress points are shared by others in the work group.

Listen

So, take the time to listen. No matter how frustrating it is, take a deep breath, calm your inner anger, and just listen. Next, ask them if you can have some time to consider the problem. Write yourself a note, jotting down a few brief thoughts to summarize what the problems is, and read it back to the person to ensure you understand the problem correctly.
If the problem is something that has to be dealt with immediately take care of it. Just remind yourself that as frustrating and inconvenient as the problem is, at least you can get it out-of-the-way and get on to other things.
If the problem can wait, or requires you to do some research and gather information, give the person a time and date you will follow-up with them and put it on your calendar so you don’t forget.
By taking the time to deal with issues right away, and give people your full attention in a calm and reasonable manner, you gain trust and respect. You also display self-control that is expected in a manager that will make people believe in your leadership skills. Nobody will follow a leader that does not display self-control.

Opportunity

Look at the problems your people present to you as opportunities to build stronger teams. Be grateful that they trust and respect you enough to look to you for solutions to their problems. Being a problem solver is part of what we do. We don’t always get to choose the timing or the circumstances for these opportunities, but we do get to decide how we will react, deal with, and ultimately what we get out of these opportunities. Remember that you make a real impact and difference in the lives of others and that impact can be either negative or positive. Choose to make all your interactions positive.

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