So you messed up big time. Maybe it’s because you botched a presentation, a pitch to the board was overruled unanimously, or you didn’t deliver on a tight (or even unreasonable) deadline. We all play the game and business as usual presents stressful, complicated, and uncomfortable situations.
Anxiety, nervousness, and trepidation—it happens to the best of us. We experience physical and psychological reactions that become roadblocks to doing our jobs.
In our extremely competitive marketplace, uncertainly is unavoidable. Most of the time, we’re not able to control the persistent feeling of uneasiness. And in spite of these situations, the only way to survive is to channel our reactions with ingenuity and creativity.
This is the Deal; Life is Complete with Agonizing Moments—It’s Unavoidable.
And this is the bottom line; top performers rise above, manage their emotions, and focus on progress, not perfection. As Ernest Hemingway said,
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
While it may not feel like it, discomfort signals personal and professional growth. It’s a compelling expression of your devotion to be a better leader, more inventive, and decisively innovative in the long run. Don’t fight it—embrace it.
The downside of nervousness and uncertainty is that it leads us to make careless, spur of the moment, decisions. We can’t allow ourselves to do that—because it sidelines us and then we end up stagnant. We come to a stand still and we stop trying. And if we think about it, we would be shocked at the amount of time and effort we spend on reacting and responding, rather than innovating.
Successful People (and Companies) Break the Cycle.
Leaders manage amongst change and are able to stay in the moment. Most rewarding careers are those built on a person’s sense of worth and their drive to put forth their very best. In fact, regardless of the end result, effort is paramount. They use their savvy to set goals and establish a vision; they remain strategic, thoughtful about decisions, and clear-headed. Fear and uncomfortable situations don’t get in their way.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, said,
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret it, but I know that one thing I might regret is not trying.”
So instead of sitting back and suffering, give these three tips a try:
Plan and Prepare for Unforeseen and Stressful Situations. Be ahead of the game. A lack of planning throughout the organization is what puts fear in the minds of staff, from the top down. Focus your team’s perspective and empower them to thrive together.
What’s most uncomfortable is strife amongst the team. Hiring, and unfortunately firing, is part of the drill. That’s why talent management and employee morale becomes so mission critical. We really don’t want to be in a situation with a peer or staff member that isn’t performing—that’s when the discussions get tough. That in itself is uncomfortable and draws us away from what’s most important, like planning a financial future for the business, trail blazing the development of new products and services, and meeting the ever-increasing demands of your consumers.
If you don’t have a plan, you don’t have options.
Control the Situation to Get What You Want. Stay calm during times of crisis. Pull back from pressure, slow down, and look through the lens of the bigger picture. Courage and fortitude is about making the leap and not hiding in the face of fear and uncertainty.
In another spin on comfort, entrepreneur Tom Patterson, founder of Tommy John (an American apparel brand) found solutions to consumer problems. Based on his own experience, Patterson found that men are uncomfortable at work because of their undergarments—finding his own frustration with his undershirt bunching and coming un-tucked. So he and his wife took a step forward and set out on a mission to develop a brand based on making their target market more comfortable. He found a better fabric (a solution to a wide-spread apparel issue amongst men) and created a product design that has become revolutionary.
He controlled the situation and the outcome.
Change the Way You Perceive Pressure.
More often than not, we are preoccupied with a disaster that never comes to fruition. This just puts undue pressure on us and renders us powerless. Remind yourself, the situation will come an end, even though we can’t predict the result.
Even in the thick of it, understand that pressure actually breeds strength of character, serving you well into the future. Be mindful and reflect on what life is like without stress. Don’t look back and learn from mistakes. For example, be assertive, say no to a project when you’re overwhelmed, and don’t be too proud to ask for help.
A Chinese Proverb to remember is:
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
When you face your fears and discomfort you will find prosperity and each time it will become easier. I’ve experienced this (we all have) and trust me, I’ve come out on the other side, more successful and determined. I fondly remember the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax.
“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”
This is your great opportunity to overcome tough situations. Don’t let your self worry about “what if”—think about “right now.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”—Nelson Mandela.