The time is 2008 to 2012, mid-year. And typical comments made by many coaching clients in the business world included:
It’s so difficult ‘out there’ ● I am so stressed ● I hope we can make it through these challenging times ● I don’t know when it’s going to end ● The stress is taking its’ toll ● I’m worried about making it as we have no room for wrong decisions ● I’m exhausted from the stress!
Fast forward. It’s mid-2012 to the present:
It’s getting better ● Business is picking up ● We’re finally showing a profit ● It’s great to be productively busy again ● Spirit and energy are very apparent in ‘here’ now ● It’s so-o-o good to be back in control ● And the familiar one … I’m so stressed but can handle it because things are back!
In both time periods stress was being tolerated. In the earlier years … because no alternative was seen or the alternative was worse … folding company, lost job, inability to support ones’ life. More recently, because it just went with the territory of positive events and busy-ness. So let’s bring it on. Right? Regardless of the business conditions it appears that ‘stress’ offers nothing of value. But wait! As a coach I just have to ask … what can happen if you take this negative (stress) and make it your ally in achieving your goals? We often want to get rid of the negative and here, I’m actually suggesting there could be a value to it. Go figure!
What put the spotlight on this issue is a recent TED talk presented by Kelly McConigal, a Stanford University psychologist who has established herself in the field of ‘Science-Help’. Her talk was on the “Upside of Stress”. For many years she taught the ills associated with stress based on her seeing it as a bad influence on our well-being and overall health. Obviously we often worked to find ways to minimize its place in our lives. With considerable research she has now come to realize that the impact of stress can be good or bad and it’s a matter of how we view it.
What the McConigal talk does is feed very well into the question I frequently ask to clients … the one about making ‘stress’ your ally. Consider these questions:
- What do the presence of stress and your awareness of it motivate you to do …, differently, better?
- If you view your stress as being a messenger, what might its message be? How might the message impact you as if viewed stress as an ally … your friend … cheering you on?
- How can stress energize you or your team to accelerate or alter your plan?
Mind over matter? In a case like this it becomes mind over body response. It’s another area over which we really can have control … if we choose to. Your comments are always welcome!