Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith – Henry Ward Beecher
I read a story about a man back in 1835 who visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from a lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat and he avoided his friends. The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition. There was no apparent physical ailment that the doctor could detect.
The doctor concluded that his patient needed to have a good time and told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You must go see him,” the doctor advised. “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown. He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.” “No,” replied the despairing man, “he can’t help me. You see, I am Grimaldi.”
A recent Inc. magazine story related that 77% of American workers are stressed about something at work. Share of employees who cite the following as significant sources of stress:
- Low salary 49%
- Lack of opportunities for advancement 43%
- Heavy workload 43%
- Unrealistic expectations from managers 40%
- Long hours 39%
Anxiety is a part of our workplace culture. If you are not stressed by something at work chances are you know someone who is. The mark of your leadership is not that you manage your own stress well but that you are creating a stress-less culture in your office. How is this done? Here are four simple reminders about how to deal with your anxiety.
Straighten up. A lot of stress in the office is created by clutter. The big picture will never be clear if your point of view is a mess. An orderly system to navigate your day goes a long way in causing it to run smooth. If your work area is cluttered then chances are your associated thought processes are a source of stress. Clean it up.
Speak up. One of the worse things a person can do is to keep things bottled up on the inside. Eventually what happens? All those emotions that have been building up boil over and it does not have a happy ending. Open and honest communication goes a long way in defusing a situation before it reaches an unhealthy conclusion. Let it out.
Step up. It’s when you learn to serve others and consequently serve causes greater than self that you learn the leadership law of reciprocity – the good that you do for others will come back on you. When was the last time you stepped up your game for the sake of a colleague? Never be so consumed with your own interests that you have no time to serve others. Step up and lead by example. One day you will be glad that you did. Serve it up.
Stay up. The attitude you choose will make all the difference when it comes to the stress and anxiety that you bear. No one is immune from stress, but neither are you restricted by the attitude you embrace.
John Maxwell writes, “Our destinies in life will never be determined by our complaining or high expectations. Life is full of surprises and the adjustment of our attitudes is a lifelong project. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
Stress can either be the head wind that wears you down or the wind in your sails that takes you to new destinations. Choose to be up!
© 2012 Doug Dickerson