The Greatest Weapon


Stress Image

Work related stress is killing productivity and adding unnecessary anxiety in our daily lives.

Researchers found that more than 1 in 4 Americans surveyed say they don't have enough time to do their jobs and two-thirds of all workers say they frequently work under tight deadlines or at high speed (NPR).

I would also argue that unnecessary stress is impeding employee retention, commitment, engagement, and realization of self-worth. 

Stress is difficult to eliminate. We deal with it in various ways. But, a modest mindset change may help us manage it better.

What if we viewed our interaction with stress as a dance? A dance, in which we partner with it instead of letting it debilitate us.

In my adult life, I have come to realize that trying to conquer stress is fruitless, but being able to prance alongside is productive.

The more familiar we are about how we react to stress, the better off we shall be. 

I also find it useful to think of stress as an outcome. As my coauthor and I have discussed in the Experience Manifesto, outcomes are difficult to control. But, we can control our actions and willingness to continuously perform better.

If you are like me, interested in continuously improving and growing, then please join me in the next few posts and let's see if we can help each other dance with stress. 

Step 1 

Sit down with pen and paper (or computer) and start freewriting about the challenges you’re facing.  

Just start writing.  

Don’t edit, just put down on paper whatever comes to mind.  

You’ll often find that if you simply give yourself space to write out your thoughts, you’ll find just the source of your stress. 

Some people enjoy journaling in the morning. 

It doesn’t have to be an activity that takes too long. 

The idea is to free thoughts from the mind.

If that idea is not specific enough, here is another approach. 

Instead of free-writing, simply make a list of every single thing you need to do, from your laundry to a slide deck for a meeting.  

Don’t stop until you can’t think of anything else.

By putting everything down on paper, you are effectively removing the list from your mind and the effects it has on you.  

It sounds simple (and it is), but the power of it is incredible.  

Step 2

Once you’ve identified your stressors, the next step is to set systematically reduce the impact of stress.  

Ask yourself what tasks are most important and most urgent.  

Focus on completing most important and urgent work first. 

Perhaps these priorities are set by a boss or coworker, but after you’ve made your list, sort them.  

Ideally, you want to get your list into an order where if you had to cut out or delay the unimportant tasks, it wouldn’t matter very much.

There’s a number of ways to think about priorities, and ultimately you have to decide what’s important and what’s not.  

But if you’re having trouble, please join me again next time. I will share a few tips and strategies that have worked well for my coauthor and I.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” 

William James