Learning to Effectively Manage Stress Can Take Many Forms (Guest Commentary by Seth Mohorn)

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No matter what your role is — whether executive or hourly, service or sales — we all have one thing in common: the ability to control our own attitude.

Yet, each day perhaps the one thing we all tend to let others manage for us is our attitude.

When’s the last time you allowed someone else’s negativity to create within you some level of negativity? I’ve heard it said that, “seven out of ten people will think negatively instinctively.” What an astounding thought.

Dale Carnegie, the best-selling author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” once said, “we are going to meet a lot of unpleasant situations” and that “we can either accept them as inevitable and adjust ourselves to them, or we can ruin our lives with rebellion and maybe end up with a nervous breakdown.”

Perhaps the current economic situation is the aforementioned unpleasant situation or maybe it’s the fear of losing your job. Whatever it is, how we choose to deal with it is paramount to either success or failure.

Mr. Carnegie wrote, “I am deeply convinced that our peace of mind and the joy we get out of living depends not where we are, or what we have, or who we are, but solely upon our mental attitude.”

Here are some thoughts from Mr. Carnegie’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” that will allow us all to cultivate a healthier attitude:

• Create happiness for others. Doing a good deed and taking a genuine interest in others will allow us to experience a change in heart. When we turn our focus off ourselves and place it on others, everyone involved is better for it.

• Expect ingratitude. It seems as though we all go through the day looking for and waiting on positive affirmation for a job well done. Yet, when it doesn’t come readily we can become negative and downtrodden. We certainly live in a “me” centered society and we want people to stand up and take notice of what “we” do.

Yet, I would challenge us to not be so concerned with what gratitude we might get from others, but too truly focus on making the task at hand be as successful as possible. When we do this we will find that our inner sense of pride far outweighs any affirmation that someone can give us.

• Analyze your problems. Sometimes we make decisions without having enough information. When we can write the problem out, it may bring about a greater level of resolve. Mr. Carnegie suggested answering the following four questions:

1. What is the problem? 2. What are the causes of the problem? 3. What are the possible solutions? 4. What is the best possible solution? With the answer to these questions we can formulate a decision that we then should ensure is executed.

• Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health. Keeping this thought in the forefront of our mind will allow us to be mindful of just how much stress and worry a certain situation is worth.

How many times have you heard the story of the person who had huge success in business yet was plagued by illness because they just couldn’t seem to think about anything other than the stresses of work 24/7?

• Keep busy. It seems so easy to get lost in all the things that are occurring around us.

Instead, we could keep busy with continuing to develop and sharpen our skills. Allow our mind to be filled with things other than those that tend to stress or worry us the most.

When asked if stress is a good thing or a bad thing, most people would probably say bad.

Yet, according to engineers, stress when put in the right place, will allow a bridge to support the weight put upon it. When you think of stress in those terms most people would probably then say that stress is a good thing.

In the end, you engage people like I do on a daily basis that have allowed stress or worry to negatively impact their relationships, productivity and health.

As leaders, let’s all be committed to positively influencing people to respond in stressful or worrisome situations with a “can do” attitude.

In doing so, we are better stewards to our organizations and, more importantly, our people.

(Seth Mohorn is Managing Partner for Dale Carnegie Training of the Mid-South offered by Howard Mohorn & Associates, which provides Dale Carnegie Training services in Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock and Memphis, Tennessee. You can reach him at 888-578-7873.)