Last week, I spoke at the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce Breakfast about how business leaders can conquer worry — and even succeed — in tough times.
Something occurred to me right before the talk: Being a leader forces you to confront different stresses than others feel in tough times. Why? Because leaders, like you, are responsible not just for yourself but also for helping others through this period. You are managing more with less.
You are dealing with the upset of others, as well as your own. People are looking to you for solutions while you seek them for yourself. Hang in there. Here are 5 things I recommend to help yourself get through the tough times:
1. Remind yourself of your values. During the 1982 Chicago Tylenol-tainting incident, Johnson and Johnson senior execs reportedly met in a conference room and reflected on Johnson and Johnson’s Credo of values before taking action.
Those values successfully guided them through the worst product-tampering case in history. Reflect on your values now. What principles have guided you in business and in life? Count on those values to help you weather any storm. My own values appear on a schedule I print out every day.
2. Be proactive. Constant negative news can be paralyzing. As you know from my previous newsletters, “activity ‘s the antidote to anxiety. You will feel much better when you take action. Call clients to see how they’re doing. Offer encouragement. Thank your staff for extra effort.
3. Keep a journal. At some point during the evening, take 5 minutes to write your thoughts about the day. Put a real pen to paper. I personally use a Moleskine journal (the cahier large ruled is my personal favorite) recommended by my friend and colleague, attorney David Frees.
Whatever method you use, jot down a few thoughts about what the day was like. What went well, What the challenges were. And your hopes for tomorrow.
4. Study your own successes. In a study of two groups of experienced bowlers I read not too long ago, the group who reviewed what they previously did well raised their scores in the future. The group that looked only at what they did wrong didn’t improve at all. You have managed through tough times before. Review what you did to clear the hurdles. You’ll amaze yourself at how many resources you truly have at your disposal.
5. Share the Experience. Keeping stress inside never works. It always finds a way out, and frequently the way it manifests itself is through decreased resistance to illness and chronic ailments. Don’t keep it inside. Talk with friends. Identify colleagues willing to meet or discuss things regularly by phone. Call me for a quick consult. But don’t keep it in. It doesn’t want to be there.
Following these tips will decrease your stress and improve your focus. For additional help, my book The Stress Solution has s step by step plan to help you permanently enhance your stress management skills.