How to Navigate Stress in a Storm
Sailors don’t resist the wind.
You can’t deal with the storm until you acknowledge the wind.
Fretting over things beyond your control is impotence stressing over incompetence.
The worst stress comes from resisting unalterable realities.
We’re all sailors in a storm that isn’t ending soon. Teams are often stressed about things they can’t control.
Life isn’t returning to normal anytime soon. So why are you stressed about something you can’t change?
It’s ridiculous to stand at the helm and rage against a contrary wind. In a storm, the best you can do is lash yourself to the deck and steer into the wind. To rage against unalterable storms is arrogant futility.
Resisting the inevitable squanders resources, drains energy, and increases frustration.
Figure out how to navigate the storm in ways you can brag about around the table.
How to navigate stress in a storm:
#1. Accept the world as it is, not as you wish it was.
Stop looking for magic fairy dust. The only answer is to turn into the wind.
#2. Determine how you want to show up – before you show up.
Don’t let unalterable turbulence distract you from things within your control, your attitude for example.
#3. Focus on the way you treat each other.
The most important thing about us is the way we treat each other while we do the work.
#4. Give yourself and others some grace.
It’s nearly impossible to achieve the same results in a hurricane as in calm seas. Yes, aim high. Challenge yourself AND stop raging against the storm.
#5. Ask your team three questions.
- “How soon do you believe things will settle down?”
- “With reality in mind, how do we want to treat each other?”
- “What does success look like TODAY?”
How might leaders best serve teams that are experiencing long-term turbulence?
What suggestions do you have for navigating stress in a storm?
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“So why are you stressed about something you can’t change?”
Because a whole raft of different people (clients, regulatory authorities, managers…), all of whom have the power to make my life uncomfortable, refuse to accept neither I nor anyone else can change it , and come back again and again and again asking why I haven’t changed reality and telling me what they’re going to do to me if I don’t…
Thanks Mitch. I think it’s easy for people with power or position to be out of touch with reality.
This has good applications for churches and families. If communities of persons practiced kindness and showed grace & patience they would be much more able to weather stressed-filled storms. Thank you. Good reminder as we approach Thanksgiving. Many opportunities to show grace and be kind. And be thankful! Another way to face stress is give thanks. Gratitude lowers stress, I’ve found.
Thanks Pete. You addition of “gratitude lowers stress” is something to take to the bank.
Dan, spot on as usual.
Learning what we control and how to implement options that best fit our circumstances. We may not control everything yet we still have input with objective viewpoints that may calm the seas.
Sometimes we need to set the glass done to reduce its weight.
Thanks Tim. At least we can NOT escalate a situation with unnecessary drama or demand.
As Max DePree said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”
In high stress, rapidly changing situation, I find people often generalize and exaggerate. You hear statements like these.
–Everything is out of control.
–Nothing is working.
–No one know what to do.
The first thing the leader needs to do is define the facts. And then separate what you can control from what beyond your control.
Thanks Paul. So true. Stress magnifies situations and makes broad generalizations feel right. I’ve found it can be useful to take people seriously when they make overstatements.
“Fretting over things beyond your control is impotence stressing over incompetence.” This is the key to it all. Once one accepts this one can move on and lower stress. Then comes the hard part practicing “patience” and “grace”. I find “grace” harder than “patience” the older I get.
Thanks Roger. It’s hard to come to grips with our own frailty.
RE: grace is harder the older you get…. and I thought it was supposed to ger easier!! 🙂
Dan, I always thought as you grace should get easier. Here’s how I see it. The older we get or more seasoned we go thru so much we naturally lean towards more patience. It’s because we are smarter and recognize patience is valuable. At the same time whilst we hone our patience we gather up some negatives on what we give up to be patient. We see the others and we say yes I can be patient with that guy but in no way am I giving him grace he does not deserve it. We’ve chosen patience because it makes sense but the grace part that just might be a bridge too far in the journey because after all I’ve given him patience haven’t I.
Thanks Roger. The key struggle of grace seems to be around deserving. It’s uncomfortable rising above a transactional relationship.
“You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” makes sense.
“I’ll scratch your back,” rises above the norm.