This past January, I took a new position at a very large company. It is a high stress, very demanding job that I knew I could get through if I dealt with it and didn’t give up. At times I was very irritable, tired, and generally wiped out. Being a leader means keeping morale high when things are going crazy. Today I’ll share my experience on how your behavior, mood, and demeanor affect those who look to you as a leader, and shine some light on what I did to get through the stressful times.
The job I described above is the job I still work at today. The same responsibility, the same coworkers and boss, but it feels completely different than nine months ago. I was the one who changed myself in the beginning, and I am the one who changed back to who I was prior to taking this position. This all ties into controlling your emotions and keeping frame. I had let it slip and I felt like shit. I skipped workouts, ate shitty food, and had a pretty negative outlook on most things in my life. I felt like a different person, and in a way I was.
Then one day, I said “fuck this, I’m done feeling this way” and started analyzing what it was that was stressing me out. It wasn’t the job, but how I was handling my stress that was making me feel like shit. To sum it all up, putting up with that level of stress was crazy and I felt crazy, but I decided that I wasn’t going to let some external force such as a job cause me mental turmoil. I stuck with it, changed my attitude and I ended up getting promoted and handed even more responsibility, but my head was right so I didn’t feel the way I did back in January.
Why am I telling you all this? So what, no one likes work and people deal with stress all the time. While that’s true, I hadn’t realized the effect it was having on my family.
Figuring It All Out
Once I decided to take charge of my stress levels, everything changed. I was thinking correctly and thus acting correctly. I was motivated at the gym, eating right, reading more, and just feeling great in general. This naturally had spillover into my personal relationships. My wife had a conversation with me saying “You seem like yourself again. I cant imagine you stressing out the way I do.” Even my kids seem happier and more responsive than before.
When you take the role of a leader (in any type of group) you take on the role of keeping morale high even when things are out of control. The truth is, you may feel overwhelmed but that’s okay. The pivotal point is right here. You can let your emotion and stress get the best of you and freak out, or you can stay calm and collected. The first option lands you with a mental burden, and ultimately no results. The second option lands you with a bit of temporary discomfort, but you will find a way out of it. Compounding on that, the feeling of accomplishment will boost your confidence and thus that of your group. In times of complexity, the people you are in charge of will need and rely on you to keep shit in order. I’ve even noticed, in a crisis people will be better equipped to handle a task you assign to them, rather than left to their own devices.
So now we can see the benefits of keeping your cool in a stressful situation, and how your emotional state dictates that of those who depend on you, but how do you apply it to your life?
When I started implementing this method, things became so much clearer. When faced with a stressful situation, I ask myself:
Is this a problem I can fix?
This is the first thing you should ask yourself because wasting time trying to fix something out of your control is pointless. For example, so many people get stressed out by the weather. We can’t fix this, so why care? Sure rain, snow, and cold suck, but being bitchy about it will get you nowhere. If you cant fix it, don’t waste time trying. If you are able to fix it, it leads to the next question:
Is this an external problem or internal problem?
You have to ask yourself this because the methods to fixing both of these are different. An internal problem was like the one I was facing above. It was how I was handling my stress that was causing even more stress. External problems can usually be a little easier to fix. Things like job responsibilities or fixing something around the house. There is usually a clear set deliverable that is the result of handling external problems, but it may not always be the case. Trying to solve personal issues for other people will always result in failure. Which leads to the final question :
What can I do to make sure I’m handling my emotional level while boosting morale of those around me?
As cliché as it can be “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” is applicable here. Even if you’re not the leader of a group, you can apply this question. The guy gathers all the tools for the ones who will use them is more valuable than a guy who runs around screaming when shit hit the fan. As men, we have to stay calm in daunting times, it’s kind of a defining feature of men overall.
I’ve shared this with you guys because I found it to be beneficial in my life. I know everyone deals with stressful situations and while I think most of the time we can handle it, everyone has the potential to slip a bit. Try your best not to let stress get the best of you and utilize the questions I posted above as they’ve really helped me feel better in every area of my life. Comment below if you have any questions or insights.