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Stop Stress in its Tracks

Effectively manage stress with these five simple tools.

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For those in the entrepreneurial fast lane, stress is just another fact of life. Research has also shown that the most successful individuals – the Type A personalities and perfectionists amongst us – will be more susceptible to stress than others, which probably comes as no surprise.

And let’s face it, most of us fall into at least one of these two categories and are no strangers to the odd anxiety-induced sleepless night. It’s next to impossible to avoid stress entirely. We can eat the right foods, we can get our eight hours of sleep at night, we can take our yoga classes – but when stressful situations rear their ugly heads, even the most well-rested, green juice-guzzling, gymbag-toting entrepreneur may be at a loss as to how to cope with the problem.

Effectively managing stress

We all know the harmful toll that stress can take on our health, but the question remains: in today’s fast-paced world of meetings, deadlines and around-the-clock pressure, how do we effectively manage this stress without driving ourselves – and those around us – insane?

Dale Carnegie, an American writer and lecturer on topics such as self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training and public speaking, swore by a set of stress-management principles in his famous book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. These principles assist in the management of stress and are still relevant today; 100 years after Carnegie first began teaching in 1912.

1. Live in day-tight compartments

You’ve had a terrible day. A critical deal has fallen through. A key team member has resigned. Your Internet won’t work. In short, good old Murphy dropped by and everything that can go wrong has. Now go home, and forget about it entirely.

Easier said than done? Living in day-tight compartments is challenging but it’s a habit we can cultivate. If we take life one day at a time and don’t worry about the next day, week or month’s commitments and concerns, we are a small step away from leading a better life. Remember, worrying never improved any situation.

2. Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries

More often than not we find ourselves worrying about things that never actually occur. By using the law of averages – statistically, there’s a far greater chance of me being involved in a car crash than this plane going down – we can avoid unnecessary stress.

3. Decide just how much anxiety a thing is worth and then refuse to give it more

You have just completed work on your pitch in preparation for a meeting that you have with a potential new client the next day. It was a challenging brief but you put in the hours and you’re proud of the finished
product. You go to bed, intending to get a good night’s rest so you can be on peak form for your big pitch the following day, and then the inner dialogue starts: What have you forgotten?

Should you have included that? Will it be good enough? It’s normal that you’ll be worried, but decide on a ‘healthy’ level of anxiety and an applicable ‘stress period’, and then refuse to give it any more thought. Allow yourself 15 minutes to go over everything in your head, and then turn off that mental laptop and go to sleep knowing you have given it your all.

4. Coping with a difficult situation

Ask yourself: What is the worst that can possibly happen? Then, prepare to accept the worst, and try to improve on the worst.

For instance, Jared is unhappy with the new software you have installed for him. After throwing around expletives that would make Eminem blush and threatening to fire your company, he slams down the phone. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?

Answer: He could fire us. Then accept that as a reality. Lastly, try to improve on the worst: pick up the phone tomorrow when he has cooled down, explain your perspective and offer an alternative. If nothing else, he will appreciate your effort.

5 Cultivate a mental attitude of peace and happiness

Optimistic, positive people are far better equipped to deal with stress, and the reason for this is that they are more inclined to see opportunity in their losses. So Jared has told you he no longer requires your services? Fine – that gives you capacity to find new business with a client who appreciates the work you do… and who is less inclined towards profanity.

Ever noticed how good things always seem to happen to those positive people? It’s not that they’re luckier than the rest of us – they just focus more on the good than they do on the bad. They won’t dwell on a bad day in the office, but they will tell you about a great deal that’s just come through.

They understand that they can’t control what life throws at them, but they can control how they react to it – and that’s the difference.

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Self Development

20 Quotes On Coping With Change From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

Change is up to you.

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elon-musk

Change is a hard concept to grasp – and can be even harder to cope with it. Whether you’re switching careers, leaving a company or ending a relationship, change comes in all sizes – big and small. And while some change can be exciting, other times it can be difficult.

Having your own approach to change, whether it’s in how you view it or how you handle it, is important in moving forward and being successful.

To learn how others do it, here are 20 quotes about change from today’s most successful leaders and entrepreneurs.

1. Elon Musk

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” – Elon Musk 

2. Oprah Winfrey

“You don’t have to hold yourself hostage to who you used to be.” – Oprah Winfrey

Related: 5 Mindset Changes You Must Make When Going From Employee To Entrepreneur

3. Barack Obama

barack-obama

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Barack Obama

4. Larry Page

“If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.” – Larry Page

5. Steve Jobs

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs 

6. Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

7. Steve Case

“Revolutions happen in evolutionary ways.” – Steve Case

Related: Osteostrong: An Exploding Global Movement Of Positive Change

8. Coco Chanel

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” – Coco Chanel

9. Warren Buffett

“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” – Warren Buffett

10. Steven Spielberg

steven-spielberg

“All of us, every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” – Steven Spielberg

11. Mark Zuckerberg

“Entrepreneurship is about creating change, not just companies.” – Mark Zuckerberg

12. Richard Branson

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

13. Joan Rivers

“Life is very tough. If you don’t laugh, it’s tough.” – Joan Rivers

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

14. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

“In order to build strength, you have to usually come from a lot of weakness.” – Lady Gaga

15. Thomas Jefferson

“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson

16. Thomas Edison

“Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” – Thomas Edison

17. Sheryl Sandberg

“I learned that, in the face of a void or in the face of any challenge, you can choose joy and meaning.” – Sheryl Sandberg

18. Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins

Related: Managing Resistance To Change: An Essential Management And Leadership Skill

19. Martha Stewart

“The more you adapt, the more interesting you are.” – Martha Stewart

20. Albert Einstein

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

You’re Probably Biased At Work. Here’s How To Stop It

New research looked at hard data to find solutions.

Nina Zipkin

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Everyone suffers from bias, despite their best intentions. And that bias can manifest itself in ways we don’t always intend – including how opportunities are and aren’t doled out in the workplace.

Recently, a trio of researchers used sensors to see if they could distinguish any differences in day-to-day behavior between male and female employees. Their goal was to eliminate the type of bias that can occur in self-reported polls about behaviour.

To study this, the researchers looked at a company where women made up just under 40 percent of entry-level employees and 20 percent of employees at the second-highest level of seniority. For four months, 500 male and female employees at this company wore badges with sensors in them that recorded their movement, speech patterns and proximity to one another.

Related: 12 Reasons Entrepreneurs With Type-A Personalities Are Unstoppable

The researchers then monitored who the subjects communicated with and who led conversations. Though the data was anonymous, the research team collected information about a given person’s gender, role and how long they had worked for the company.

Although they approached the investigation with the hypotheses that perhaps the female employees had less access to mentors or did not advocate for themselves with management as much as their male counterparts, the researchers found that this was not the case.

“We found almost no perceptible differences in the behavior of men and women. Women had the same number of contacts as men, they spent as much time with senior leadership and they allocated their time similarly to men in the same role,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their findings in Harvard Business Review.

“We found that men and women had indistinguishable work patterns in the amount of time they spent online, in concentrated work, and in face-to-face conversation. And in performance evaluations men and women received statistically identical scores. This held true for women at each level of seniority. Yet women weren’t advancing and men were.”

They concluded that differences in men and women’s behaviour aren’t what leads to gender inequality in the workplace – entrenched bias is the culprit.

So what can you do in your own company to make sure that bias doesn’t impact your hiring and promoting decisions? The researchers recommend instituting training programmes to reduce bias among management and people in the position to bring on new team members. You also might want to consider making a policy that, for all new open jobs, you interview and recruit people from a variety of backgrounds.

Related: Blend These 7 Personality Types When Building Your Executive Team

Also, look at the responsibilities your employees have outside the office. Think about ways to make it easier for both women and men to have flexible schedules, especially given that women often have social pressures to take on more family and household obligations.

Finally, determine where the pipeline to managerial and executive positions begins to trend more towards men. Collect data on exactly when these shifts happen in order to identify their specific causes (e.g. higher-ranking positions and their responsibilities require more late nights), then come up with pointed solutions (e.g. flexible morning schedules to accommodate childcare).

From there, measure the effectiveness any solution you implement. (“Since we implemented this policy, have those who have taken advantage of it advanced?”) This way, mitigating inequality is a science, not a guessing game.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com

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Self Development

Better Thinking For A Better World

How to think more critically and strategically in a world filled with complexity and rapid change.

Erik Kruger

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We take the act of thinking for granted. It is often seen as a skill one is born with and not one that should be cultivated over time.

As the world becomes more complex and more busy, strategic and critical thinking becomes more valuable. Strategic thinking points to the ability to decide how and when to deploy resources to achieve a certain end state.

Below are four areas of focus that will improve your strategic thinking:

1. Making Time For Reflection

Life is busy. Juggling work, friends and family, and the recurring notifications from your phone has become quite a feat. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to create space for reflection.

Related: One-Year Milestone: Smart Thinking That Will Ensure Your Start-Up Makes It Past The First Year

Time spent in solitude allows you to reflect and connect the dots. It temporarily takes you out of a world in which you must be reactive to survive and keep up.

My suggestion is to create a SOS (space of solitude) for at least 30 minutes every day. In this time, reflect on what has been working and what has not been working. Meditate on your goals for the future and plan for the actions that will help you get there.

2. Asking Better Questions

Many of us fall into the trap of sequential problem solving. This happens when leaders or organisations simply move from one challenge to the next and the only question they ask is “how do we overcome this challenge?”.

What about the questions like “how did we arrive here?” or “what assumptions are we making here?” or “what does better look like?”

I am not trying to give you a template of questions to ask. Merely prodding you to go beyond challenging the problem but to also challenge the thinking about the problem.

As we deepen our questions, we elevate our thinking.

Do not simply ask more questions. Ask better questions.

3. Seek More Input

Teams are great and often underutilized. How can you use your team’s knowledge, experience, and opinions in a more constructive way?

Well, how about allowing them sufficient time for reflection in solitude but also as a group. How about prompting them to look for the patterns in their environment? How about, as a leader, asking them questions that allow them to really stretch their cognitive abilities?

Even better, empower them to ask those questions themselves.

Related: Disruptive Thinking: A Winning Edge

4. Thinking rules

We often make the same mistakes over and over. Not because we have not learned the lesson but because the context changes. Or excitement gets the better of us.

During your reflection time (hopefully you have noticed the importance of this by now) you can reflect on your past decisions and figure out how you could have made better decision.

Once you have done this start jotting down a few personal rules that will help guide your decision making in the future. A personal guideline I established was that I will wait 24 hours before making any big purchase. Gadgets and golf gear often get the best of me. But simple rules like these help to guide my decision making and prevents me from making mistakes irrespective of context or emotional state.

What is next?

Starting today schedule a daily SOS. Yes, schedule it. Do not leave it to chance.

Think of it as training for your brain. A space where you get to think. Free of distraction and noise. You will be amazed at the clarity that comes from these sessions and how your productivity and effectiveness soars.

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