Life Lessons: Learning to Cope with The “S” Word 4

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The “S’ word is all around us. It seems at times that we can’t go a day without hearing about it – feeling it’s effects or getting caught up in it. It wasn’t as topical 20 years ago – yet it has  always been there – it just seems now it’s on everyone’s mind. The “S” word – yes I’m talking about STRESS! It’s like that pesky neighbour next door who just won’t move away. You can’t eliminate all of the stressors that are creating stress in your life but you can learn how to deal with them.

Stress is not always a bad thing. A little bit of stress can be a very positive and motivating influence in our lives. Stress can help create a sense of urgency and force us to get off the couch. It is only when stress increases beyond our ability to easily cope with it that we begin to feel both the emotional and physical effects of it. (Headaches, inability to concentrate and a rise in our blood pressure) The negative effects of common stressors are cumulative. A series of very mild stress events can create an exceptionally high level of stress if not dealt with effectively. You can learn how to cope.

Three Methods for Coping with Stress 

Your most critical stress issues are those you feel are high priority to change and you are able to change them. Your least critical stress issues are those with a low priority and are very difficult to change. Learn to change what you can, influence what you will and give up on those things that you cannot control. For those stressors you can change, the key is to develop a specific plan of action for creating the change you want, then follow through with that plan. (I know I make it sound simple but it really is that simple) For those stressors you cannot change, the key is to change your response to them. (Mind over matter. If you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter)

Eliminate the stressors or change your response to them 

To accomplish more with our lives and achieve a greater feeling of satisfaction we must reduce or eliminate unproductive stressors in our lives where ever and when ever possible. and improve our ability to cope with those stressors that we cannot eliminate. (You don’t get to pick your relatives or immediate family but you can choose how much time you spend with them) Attitude – your attitude is 100% in your control. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given set of circumstances. Only you get to decide when to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, walk away or simply ignore it all together.

Use the coping resources available to you 

There are a number of social services available to you to help you cope with those major life events like disease, divorce and even death. You don’t have to carry the load yourself. Reach out – it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength.  Hobbies are also a great way to de-stress at the end of the day. Exercising, eating right and sleeping right will also help reduce the ill-effect of stress in your life.

Develop new coping resources

You only know what you know. If what you are currently doing to cope isn’t working, then you need to discover a better way. Read a book, attend a workshop or better yet join a support group. The last thing you should do is sit at home alone with too much time on your hands. The last thing you should do is sit alone at home feeling sorry for yourself. Getting knocked down isn’t the issue, everyone gets knocked down. Not getting back up and doing something about it is. You can learn to deal with the “S” word. It’s 100% in your control. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith is available for speaking engagements, one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops. Contact Brian directly at briansmithpld@gmail.com or visit his site http://briansmithpld.com

Leading From The Back of The Pack 4

Geese in Flight (2)

Geese in Flight (2) (Photo credit: Johnath)

What do great Leaders and Geese have in common? They both give up control to get control. They both let others lead from time to time. Great  leaders know they don’t have to control everything all of the time. They don’t have to have all of the answers all of the time. They just have to surround themselves with people who do know – and then get out of their way and let them take the lead.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere” – Ronald Regan

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve decided to give up some of your duties and you’ve decided you’re going to delegate some of them to those you feel are capable of and are willing to take on more responsibility. Think of all the tasks that you do and list them on a piece of paper. Now look over your list and circle the ones that only you can do. If you’re being completely honest with yourself there will be some things on that list that you haven’t circled. Those are the ones that you are going to give up.

“Never learn to do anything. If you don’t learn, you’ll always find someone else to do it” – Mark Twain

If you don’t delegate some of your duties and responsibilities you’re robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. If you don’t delegate some of your duties and responsibilities you won’t have time to step back and think about where the organization needs to be and how you and your team are going to get there. You need time to step back and see the big picture and have an idea where all the pieces are going to fit. If you don’t trust the people around you to do the task on their own – then why did you hire them in the first place?

“I’ve got an ego and all that, but I know I need help. So I hire the very best people” – Ross Perot

It’s important that you show trust and confidence in your people. Remember not to get too hung up on how they go about doing the task. Yes – you can give them some pointers here and there – but keep in mind that most people want to put their own stamp on things. The end result is not open for debate. Company standards must be maintained – but how we accomplish them can be. The key to great leadership is about “inclusion” not “exclusion”. Great leadership is about including others in the decision-making process. It doesn’t have to be just your way. The more that you allow your people to have input – the more likely it is – that they will want to come along.  The more likely it is that they will want to follow you. – 🙂

Staff Disengagement – Top Trends and Remedies to Re-energize Your Workforce 2

Do you feel at times that your staff have tuned-out or have turned-off? Absenteeism on the rise? Is it getting more difficult to motivate others? Are you finding it more challenging to retain talent? Well you are not alone. Results of a survey conducted by Towers Perrin revealed that the number of staff who reported being highly engaged at work was only 17%. Fifty-Nine percent of those surveyed indicated that they were moderately engaged at best; and 24% said they were actively disengaged. And worse yet – those disengaged employees were busy acting out their unhappiness, undermining what the engaged co-workers were trying to accomplish.

What can you do to reverse this trend? 

What can managers and business leaders do to engage the hearts and minds of their employees? According to Dr. David Vik – author of, “The Culture Secret” it starts at the top. Every organization has an identity – a culture – that is best defined as the values, beliefs and attitudes that are shared by all members of the organization. Think of your organizations culture as the rudder that keeps the ship on course. Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos believes “If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own”. Without a solid foundation you stand little chance of retaining or attracting new talent.  Your mission or value statements should be more than a catchy phrase or sound bite. Every decision you make should be a reflection of those values or you shouldn’t do it. All too often there is a disconnect between what we say we are going to do – and what we actually do. All too often we send out mixed messages and lose sight of why we do what we do and for whom.

Have you given them enough reasons to want to stay?   

Everyone is competing for the same talent. Why would they want to work for your company instead of your competitors? What can you offer them that your competition can’t offer? How much fun are you to be around? If you want to attract new talent or more importantly – keep the talent you have – you need to give them a reason to want to stay. And trust me – it’s rarely about how much money you pay them. Yes – money is important – but it sits at about number four or five on the list of what motivates people. Based on the results of exit interviews conducted by the Saratoga Institute workers left because they felt devalued and unrecognized – there was a loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders – there was too little feedback and coaching or there was too few growth and advancement opportunities. Promote from within based on merit not seniority.

What are you prepared to do about it? 

“The real impediment to producing a higher quality product more efficiently aren’t the workers, union or non-union, it’s management” ( Kenneth Iverson). Change comes from the top down – never the bottom up. Nothing happens by chance. It takes a concerted effort on your part to insure everyone on your team is successful.  If you are looking to re-energize your workforce and attract new talent –  then it’s time to get FOCUSED(C) on what matters most – your people.

F – Friendly: Smile – build collaborative teams. Make everyone feel important.   

O – Observant: Reach out to those in need and teach them what they need to know. But, resist the urge to micro-manage.

C – Consistent: Treat everyone the same. Company policy and procedures are for everyone – specially your super stars.

U – Understanding: Be empathetic – See it from their point of view.

S – Sincere: If you truly want others to be successful it will show in the way that you treat them.

E – Energized: Be enthusiastic – lead by example. Be your team’s biggest cheerleader

D – Dependable: What ever you say you’re going to do – do it. They must be able to trust you.  Your word must be your bond.

Copyright 2013 – Brian Smith. May not be reproduced without permission.  Questions or comments? Please contact Brian directly. 🙂

Trick Question: Who’s Your Biggest Cheerleader? 6

Cheerleading Championships - Heidelberg

Who’s your biggest cheerleader? Your mom, dad, significant other? Perhaps it’s someone in your immediate family, a close friend or an acquaintance? However, If you didn’t put yourself at the top of that list – we need to talk because you’ve got a problem. It may be comforting to know that other people want you to be successful – to live up to your full potential – but unless you believe in yourself – what others think means absolutely nothing. They can’t do it for you – others don’t determine your potential – only you can do that.

Are you doing what you really love to do – what truly makes you happy – what you were born to do? Or have you settled for something less? When you get up in the morning do you hit the ground running – full of energy and excitement – ready to take on the day or do you roll over in bed and try to squeeze the last 10 minutes out of your morning before the alarm clock summons you again? If that sounds all too familiar – then it’s time for you to make a change.

In a perfect world – what would you rather be doing? Take a moment and think about that. If you could start over – what would your ideal life look like? I want you to take a blank piece of paper and write it down. If you haven’t figured out yet what you’d rather be doing then start a “Happy Journal”. For the next two weeks – every time you catch yourself smiling – write down what you where doing at that moment. After recording your happy moments over a period of two weeks a pattern should start to emerge. What ever made you smile – is what you are truly meant to be doing.

Are you prepared to do what ever it takes to realize your full potential? Are you prepared to put a plan together and work your plan?  If you believe you are mentally and physically capable of doing what you’d rather be doing – then the only person standing in your way is you. Once you’ve decided what your ideal career looks like – what new skills will you need to learn to accomplish it? Write those down on that piece of paper. What books will you need to start reading? What night courses should you sign up for? What associations or networking groups should you join? You need to surround yourself with “like” people. Think it, act it, and eventually you’ll become it. You aren’t born knowing how – but you are born with the ability to learn. Believe in yourself and never ever give up on becoming what you where truly meant to be.  You’ve got to get out of your own way. You need to be your biggest cheerleader.  🙂