Do you ever compare yourself to other leaders and feel you’re coming up short? Do you think the confidence they exude is a product of money, demeanor, intelligence and personality? Are you and others attracted to them because they have a big “L” written on their foreheads, or is there something more? They handle problems with such flair and assume responsibility so easily that it’s hard to imagine them struggling for answers.
I’ve known some of those people too. They seem to have an inate ability to simultaneously manage stress and appear totally relaxed under pressure. You, on the other hand, find yourself feeling a lot like Chicken Little and the sky is falling.
Let me tell you something. They have stress too. Whether we lead large companies or small, the fears and challenges are very real, and no matter how well we prepare, we can all be blindsided by the unexpected. How we learn to handle them makes all the difference in the world. The major players in the world of leadership are people just like you. The key difference may just rest in how they temper their reactions to stress, and by doing so, master it and not allow it to control their thoughts and actions. By doing so they not only allay their own fears, but the fears of others around them and proactively find effective solutions.
While a certain amount of stress is healthy, because it keeps us on our toes and keeps our minds functioning at peak performance, handling stress is really a balancing act. Too little and we get bored, lazy and even depressed to the point where we lose focus. Too much and we’re functioning on overload and a simple whoops, can precipitate a total meltdown.
Here are 8 techniques great leaders use to handle stress management. Knowing them and applying them can help you too:
1. In times of stress, they remember and appreciate what they have to be grateful for. As the old song goes, “Count Your Blessings.” I bet you’re a lot further ahead than other people and grateful to have your own problems and not theirs.
2. They’ve learned not to second guess themselves. It will only blow things out of proportion. Deal with what you have.
3. They refocus their minds by thinking positively. When you feel stressed out, trying to focus more positively on the stressor itself is a bit counterintuitive. Instead, focus on things you enjoy or allow yourself to a mental trip to your ‘happy place,’ wherever and whatever that might be. When you think about your day, try to find one positive thing that came out of it to bring forward with you.
4. They take breaks – both from your daily routines and in your head. We spoke about this last week.
5. For your own mental and physical health, take care of yourself. In other words, chill out! Don’t add to your stress. Give your brain a rest. Don’t be one of those people who stress out all night, can’t sleep because of it and then live on caffeine the next day to try to get going and stay awake. It only exacerbates the problem.
6. Stop negative self-talk in its tracks. Hard to do, since most people’s self-talk is negative, but it’s the best thing you can do to gain control over your life and circumstances. Negative self-talk is self- defeating and when perpetuated only serves to keep you where you are – not in a good place. Learn to recognize it when it happens and substitute positive alternatives.
7. Be mindful. Turn off your head, be in the moment and slow down. Take a deep breath. Take several.
8. Change your perspective. Remember, this too shall pass. Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Reach out and use your support system. Superman had one. Why not you? It will help you gain a new perspective and perhaps one you can use to your benefit..
Remember, leadership begins internally, with you, and your ability to master your own thoughts and actions has a profound impact on the health of the entire organization. I bet if Chicken Little practiced these techniques, she would not have fallen prey to Foxy Loxy!