This blog post is about to get real. Many folks don’t want to talk about it, especially if they are experiencing it. Although we have become a society where its supposedly ok to talk about everything, there are still somethings we don’t want to talk about.
I find this especially true the higher up we get in an organization. In many cases the higher up you go, the more stress you find.
Because usually the stakes are higher. The responsibility is heavier and the amount of money to go with it is much higher. The stress can be like a 10,000 pound elephant but its not usually something you talk about. You can be seen as weak. At this point in the post I actually want to hit the delete button. I want to delete everything I have written up until this very point, but I’m not.
To be honest, I don’t like talking about it. However, I know in order to help people who are in situations like I was in, I have to share.
Over the past decade, I’ve dealt with high stakes and extreme stress. I jokingly say I think my fight or flight instincts are completely trashed because I’ve used them so many times.
You know when your heart drops to your feet, your face turns red, your hands are sweaty, and you kinda feel like the world is spinning around you. (I hate the heart at your feet and spinning feeling the most.)
Yea, I can remember those days so vividly that I can feel it in my chest as I type this. Luckily after about three years of this in my early 20s, I learned how to deal with it. But it took time.
Part of the reason I would have this fight or flight response was because I was a perfectionist and to be honest perfection was expected. There was no place for any type of mistake. A mistake was unacceptable and costs time and money. Time was precious.
You better not waste anyone’s time. When your boss was pacing back and forth behind you asking you for data at 8:30, you better be spitting out the answers. You also better know exactly what you are talking about. The answers better be right. If someone else comes up with something different, then you better be able to back up your answers and they better be correct.
So, I learned how to work fast through upping my coding skills so I could analyze data in seconds rather than the hours it took everyone else. Once I mastered the skills, I shared. I automated the analysis so that the supervisors could start spitting out their answers and workloads at 8:30 instead of at 1:00 for the big man and employees on the floor. Most importantly though, they had to be right.
I know what your thinking. What the heck does this have to do with stress and anxiety?
Each day I would feel as though my heart was in my throat or at my feet. I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. So, I knew I had to pin point where my stress was located. At this particular time, one of the things that caused me stress was making sure the reports were ran and analyzed quickly enough. What was my anxiety? That I would not have them analyzed quickly enough or at worst, I would make a mistake.
Once I pin pointed where it was located, I had to figure out how to make it stop or at least subside. I knew that if I was able to automate the analysis of the reports, then it would save me tons of time. Little did I know at the time that it would lower the stress level of over 20 other managers too and the stress level of 300 employees on the floor worried about receiving work quick enough to meet their demanding production standards.
After I came up with my plan, I put my plan it into action. Over time, my plan worked. I was able to reduce my stress level in the mornings. People saw I was able to fix a problem causing everyone in the office stress and anxiety. As a result, they began to trust me and my word when I gave them data.
Thats all good and all but how do I fix my problem?
Get out a pen and a piece of paper. If you are under stress and anxiety, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the catalyst of my stress? Or where is the stress coming from?
- What can I do to change the situation? How can I change the situation?
- Can I put a plan into place to fix the situation?
If so, put the plan into action.
Heres the thing, you are going to go through your career — heck your life — with stress. Its how you react to it as to whether or not you will continue on the path to success. You have to make decisions. You have to use the life skills taught to you over the course of your life to make it through these difficult times. But you CAN make it. You don’t have to live in extreme stressful environments. You CAN change your situation.
Will it always happen immediately. Nope. Will it immediately get easier? Nope. In my case it got worse because I had to do double the work for a while. I had to get the reports out and work on automating them. Then I had to validate the automation while continuing on with all the other stuff on my overflowing platter of duties. But I knew what my plan was. I knew what the end goal was and I knew I had to reach the finish line to get relief.
You can find relief. You just have to pinpoint the cause, find a solution, create a plan, and put it into action.