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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training firm devoted to developing leaders to produce greater professional and personal results.

Stress will stop a leader in his tracks and then others get stuck behind you.

Part of what will stand in the way of the many steps and actions involved in leadership, is stress. In fact, stress will flat out stop a leader in his tracks and when the leader stops, how fast do you think everyone piles up behind him? You’ve got that visual don’t you? So to become a better leader, follow this simple leader’s guide to staying stress free.

What causes stress

Knowing that you have a problem, is the first step, right? Yet, once you’re stressed, it’s too late. If you can, however, catch yourself BEFORE you engage those stress induced emotions, by knowing what caused them, you can quickly assess what has tripped your trigger and helped you decide on your response. So what are those trigger trippers? What causes stress for you and for any leader, boss, supervisor, manager or executive? Ah, wait, before you list the many different daily tasks or leadership stresses and pressures that would fit neatly into one of those buckets or positions, let’s think about the big picture. What causes stress for anyone? That’s simple: any time one of our needs is not being met. I would say these needs are more personality preference based, such as the Commander Preference needing action, challenge, sense of control, results, and efficiency. Yet one could also look at Maslows’ needs or others of importance to you. Leaders, if your needs are not being met, it’s causing your stress. And just out of curiosity, whose responsibility is it to get those needs met? Hmmmm.

How to deal with stress

How a leader deals with stress now seems much simpler: go get your needs met. Get that action. Get those results. Go find something over which you can maintain better control. This is about becoming a better leader of you and in leading yourself to a more personal responsibility and accountability for ensuring you have what you need. That is the first step. But what most do first is attempt to DEAL with their stress levels. Unfortunately, the very act of DEALING with one’s stress is like dealing with an illness that you could have prevented. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have actually prevented it by boosting your immune system or ensuring you didn’t miss all that sleep? The same is true with stress. It’s not the stress you want to deal with, but the causes of stress you want to mitigate or make go away.

How to make stress go away

As the author of a book called Make Difficult People Disappear, it seems these days that making things go away has become a bit of a specialty of mine. Ha! And much like changing one’s perspective and labels about whose difficult can change how you view their behavior. The same is true for your perspective and the labels you give stress. The missing needs that you respond to with stressful behaviors will put your focus on the after effect, instead of the cause or need that you want to have fulfilled. Carefully monitor how you view the world because where your focus goes, your brain will follow. If you’re focused on being stressed or frustrated, even angry, your brain says “oh, okay” and finds more reasons to validate the “rightness” of how you say you feel. In other words, we don’t argue with our own data, so be darned sure that you want to experience that stress before you decide something is in fact worth your energy, time, and effort. It does sound rather simplistic. I get it. I also know that for you and I and every leader and team member, colleague and customer, personal friend and member of personnel… experiencing stress is a choice. How do you make stress go away? Lead yourself to choose to see things differently. Lead yourself to make different choices in what you view as stressful versus strengthening or making it possible for you to build new skills and lead yourself to consistently meet your own needs.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!


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