How to conquer stress (Part 2)

The impacts of long-term stress are fairly well-known:

  • Chronic muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

But those issues are just the common physical signs.

In our day-to-day behavior, the impacts are much more insidious:

  • Being manipulative
  • Going passive/withdrawing
  • Shame
  • Blame

When these behaviors inject themselves into our social connections, things get toxic.

The relationship becomes dysfunctional.

The leader is avoided.

The company culture is political.

Look back at any failed relationship and you will often see how stress was an early presence. Then stress evolved from nagging instance to constant companion. And with it, manipulation/withdrawal/shame/blame became the sparks for eventual failure (and very likely separation).

In our personal lives, the pattern is common enough.

But in our business relationships, the examples we know have almost no end.

Failed customer partnerships.

Disastrous corporate alliances.

Poor employee engagement.

Eroded confidence.

All because of stress.

Or rather, as I highlighted last week, all because our focus somehow swung from serving to surviving.

Instead of using the opportunity to draw together, the stress became the cause of flying apart.

Instead of turning the situation into a chance at adapting, the stress became the cause of becoming rigid and inflexible.

Imagine what would happen at work if we served our way through stress. It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it?

So why don’t we do that more often? What stops us from choosing the “obvious” path?

I have found that the underlying obstacle to serving our way through stress is fear.

Fear of failing.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of losing control.

In other words, we are stressed because we are afraid. By one – or maybe all – of the previous risks. And choosing to serve our way through that fear only creates more risks.

Risk is a relentless enemy, isn’t it?

Especially when we have made success (the opposite of failure), significance (the opposite of rejection), and power (the opposite of losing control) mandatory outcomes from our efforts.

Pause: Does the risk of not being successful, significant, or powerful cause you stress? More directly, how does your heart respond if I say that you will fail, you will be rejected, or you will lose complete control? If your stomach starts to turn at any of these ideas, you have just identified your “button.” And that’s a very good thing – because now you can do something about it.

Here’s the twisted part of this whole concept: when we allow fear to create stress – and we don’t choose to serve our way through it – we invite manipulation/withdrawal/shame/blame to the scenario. Which will make our pursuit of success, significance, and power that much more ridiculous. And difficult to achieve.

So, let me ask you again: Is fear causing you (or the people around you) stress?

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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