by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach
Stress is one of the biggest problems facing the modern worker. As work has moved from industry and agricultural to knowledge work, jobs have become less prescribed. Before the worker can perform their duties, they now have to determine what their duties are i.e. the tasks they need to focus on for a given day’s work. As few of us work without any interaction with others; we usually have other people depending on us and wanting us to put them first when we determine our priorities.
Performing an effective day’s work becomes a constant struggle as we try to balance the demands of our work, of others, of ourselves and of our lives outside of the workplace. Failure to maintain a suitable balance leads to excessive pressure and stress.
If you want to tackle stress or, avoid it entirely; you need to start with the right attitude. Attitude is a critical factor in stress. If you have the wrong attitude, you will find that stress quickly spirals out of control and you begin to experience the negative consequences that come with it. On the other hand, if you have the right attitude, alarm bells start ringing as soon as you begin to experience stress and, you can deal with the situation before any real harm is done.
Adopting stress busting attitudes
There are many stress busting attitudes which you can adopt but from my experience coaching those with stress, I have found that there are two stress busting attitudes which are absolutely essential. If a client has not adopted these attitudes, they are going to have incredible difficulty in overcoming stress. If they do adopt these attitudes, then everything else becomes a whole lot easier after that.
The following 2 stress busing attitudes are critical to ensuring you maintain an even keel in the face of stress.
Stress busting attitude number 1
There is no such thing as good stress
There is one thing that really annoys me in the business world and that is the claim that there is such a thing as good stress. If you ever pick up an article about stress management, you are likely to read about good stress and the difference between good stress and bad stress. I can tell you that there is one major difference between good stress and bad stress – bad stress exists; good stress does not. What people regularly refer to as good stress is actually pressure and, pressure does indeed help to bring the best out of you; if you deal with it before it becomes stress. However, when the pressure becomes too much, stress begins.
Now, you may be thinking that I am being a little confusing and dwelling on semantics but in fact, it is critical that we understand that there is no such thing as good stress. Stress and pressure are two different psychological and physiological experiences.
Why you must forget about good stress
There are 3 considerations which help you to understand why you must forget about good stress:
- When we consider something as good, we strive to get more of it.
- If you believe in good stress; where do you draw the line between good stress and bad stress?
- If you struggle to differentiate between good stress and bad stress, you are likely to write off a great deal of bad stress as being a good thing. In fact, you end up seeking more of it and by the time you reaise the problem, you are dealing with some very severe consequences.
It is my experience that many people who end up experiencing severe stress could have solved the problem a lot earlier, without unnecessary suffering, had they not believed in good stress. Had they accepted that there was no such thing as good stress, they would have realised that something was wrong a lot sooner which would have allowed them to take corrective action a lot earlier. Stress is like any other problem; the sooner you take corrective action, the easier it is to fix.
Stress busting attitude Number 2
You are responsible for your outcomes
It is standard practice to blame somebody else whenever something goes wrong in our lives. There is a very obvious reason for this; it makes us feel better to believe that we did nothing wrong and deserve none of the blame. However, this benefit doesn’t really last that long. You can blame everybody else, as much as you like, but that will never fix what went wrong.
Ultimately you are responsible for your outcomes. The outcomes you achieve are a result of the decisions that you made and the actions that you took. Sure, others may have contributed but if you look carefully, you will find that there was something you could have done differently to have produced a better outcome. Even when somebody else made a mistake, you may find that you contributed to the problem, e.g.
- You may have given unclear instructions
- You may have failed to supervise somebody who was inexperienced and required support
- You may have hired the wrong person for the job, etc.
Taking responsibility is not blaming yourself. Remember, blame is useless as it does not solve the problem. Taking responsibility is all about identifying what you could do differently to ensure a better outcome and, putting the lessons into action.
Stress can wreak havoc on your life. The consequences can be devastating for:
- Your health
- Your performance
- Your work/life balance
- Your relationships, and many other life areas
The key to stress busting is to have the right attitudes. When you have the right attitudes about stress, you will be in a position to identify the onset of stress and take corrective action swiftly. When things go wrong, which they will from time to time, having the ability to take responsibility for what went wrong is essential. You will be able to approach the situation with a calm head and learn lessons from your mistakes. Not only will you defeat stress but you will boost your performance and grow stronger as a person.
About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.
Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.