Don’t Let Stress Keep you from Your Goals

Don’t Let Stress Keep you from Your Goals

Don't Let Stress Keep You From Your Goals

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past week was a management week from hell. It was filled with personnel issues, injury management, process failures, and machine break downs. If it could go wrong this week it did. I had to come in early and go home late putting in long hours dealing with all the many problems that required my attention. The key is to not let stress manage you but to learn to manage your stress.

It would have been easy at any point this week to lose my cool and blow up at somebody; and believe me I had moments where I had to bite my tongue and walk away from certain people. The truth is that we cannot allow stress to derail us, take us off our game, and keep us from achieving our goals.

In a previous blog post I wrote about three tips to dealing with stress, but in this post I want to focus on how to keep control of our emotions in times of stress and how to turn stressful moments into learning and growth opportunities.

Stress is a part of life whether professional or personal. Life is going to happen and unfold in its own manner. We can merely play our part and respond as we are able with the tools available to us. We can yell and scream and throw a fit but it won’t change our circumstances. It might affect our relationships with the people we manage and how our coworkers view us – and that is the point.

We need to be in control of ourselves and our emotions. Emotional intelligence is such a big part of managing people and managers who don’t have it don’t succeed.

How many times have you worked with, or had a manager, who when they got stressed would yell and scream at people? Did you enjoy being around this person? Did it make you want to help them to solve whatever problem they were upset about? Probably not.

Not being able to control your emotions and losing your cool will destroy all your credibility and trust with people. People want to follow a manager who is cool under pressure and who helps others remain cool in the face of adversity. If you want to succeed as a manager, and create a work environment that respects people, one that is grounded in positive human interaction, then you need to master your own emotions.

So, how can you manage your emotions in times of stress? Here are some tips:

  1. Keep things in perspective. No matter how bad things are there is usually a reasonable solution or response to the problem. If you lose your cool you will fail to see the possible solutions available to you and you will turn away those people who can help you find those solutions. One way to keep things in perspective is to image the worst possible thing that could happen as a result of the problem you are facing. Really picture it and feel it. Now realize that even if the worst happens you will be alive and you will survive. By imaging the worse, and realizing that you will survive it, it helps to keep you grounded in the here and now and be able to face the reality of lesser consequences.
  2. Get out of your own head and engage your team. Our people are our greatest asset and once we realize this it becomes clear that we don’t have to bear the burden on our own shoulders. We have a team of great people who can help us to come up with solutions to whatever problems we face. Get your team together and use their strengths to create possible solutions that will lead to better outcomes. When we stay stuck in our own heads we are restricted by our own biases and fears. When we engage others new possibilities and avenues open up to us that allow us to see a much wider range of opportunities.
  3. Look at every problem and every challenge as an opportunity to learn. If we change our focus from looking at problems as obstacles that stand in our way to seeing them as learning opportunities that help us grow, then the stress of the situation is lessened. Now instead of an obstacle we have a chance to learn something about ourselves, what we believe, and the capabilities of ourselves and our teams. We also can see the opportunity for growth and success in overcoming the problems and creating tools that will help us in the future. Problems then become an exciting opportunity to grow and explore our strengths, and allow us to gain new tools to help us succeed.

Stress will come into all our lives. It is a natural element of being alive and it serves to keep us sharp, to keep us aware, and to warn us of danger. By trying to avoid stress we miss opportunities for growth and self-awareness. Look on the moments that create stress as learning moments, moments to test yourself and find out if what you believe is true is really true, or to modify your perspective and become a more aware, engaged, and compassionate human being.

Challenges create stress when they are not looked on as learning opportunities. So face your challenges head on with your team at your side and seek to overcome your obstacles by engaging others and embracing these growth opportunities.

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