There’s no magic bullet for eliminating all stress symptoms and preventing all stress, so it’s important to keep experimenting with what works for you. Over time, you’ll find you can wave goodbye to stress.
Over the years of working with leaders and companies, I’ve found that a leader’s ability to conquer stress depends on four steps. These four steps will give you a springboard for action. I call them the Four “I”s: Ignite, Initiate, Implement and Inspire.
It’s easy to think of stress as a natural part of life, an inevitable and uncontrollable force. But you must strive for positive change. You must be willing to be vulnerable and make a conscious effort to look deeply within and outside yourself. In your quest to become an effective leader, you should aspire to address stress at the individual and organizational level, recognizing that the former must be tackled before the latter. You must ignite your exploration of the role stress plays in your leadership life.
Once you’re willing to address stress, the next question is, “How do I start the effort?” Dealing with stress requires a multipronged approach. At the personal level, you must identify your internal stressors, such as pessimism or perfectionism, and your external stressors, such as disgruntled customers or insufficient resources. At the organizational level, a similar degree of awareness must exist. You can diagnose stress using assessments, surveys, interviews, and other means to truly understand the nature of the problem.
To initiate a successful stress-management effort, acknowledgment is critical. Techniques such as asking yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” can motivate you to take action by recognizing that the cost of inaction is high.
Effective leaders drive stress management by taking advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity. Research indicates that the damage induced by stress can be repaired and that the brain can be rewired. To truly wave goodbye to stress, leaders must attack it from five angles: cognitively, emotionally, interpersonally, physically, and spiritually. Logic games or memory challenges can improve your ability to concentrate and remember key information and enhance your cognitive functioning. Enhanced listening, self-awareness, and recognizing your perspective enable you to gain high levels of emotional intelligence and boost your emotional capacity. Increased social skills strengthen your interpersonal relationships and improve your team’s morale. A focus on exercise, better sleep patterns, and healthy diets boosts your energy levels and improves your physical functioning. Finally, prayer, meditation, and other spiritual rituals are key to finding your purpose in life and waking up inspired each morning.
All of these tips allow leaders to begin their stress resistance effort and figure out how they’ll deal with stress on a daily basis. This is often the most challenging part of the process, as it’s unfamiliar territory and requires a lot of growing pains. Rest assured that with a dedicated effort, you can succeed. All you have to do is start.
As leaders continue in their quest, they must put a plan in place to deal with daily stress. This is the implementation phase. A key component of implementation involves prevention. While leaders must learn to cope with stress, they must also put strategies in place to prevent stress from rearing its ugly head. At the organizational level, successful implementation involves many components and is best facilitated by an executive coach.
A leader’s ultimate objective is to inspire a life of stress-less leadership. Stress has a profound influence on your longevity. To gain resilience against stress, you must consider the various aspects of your life, including pets, travel, time, belonging, and nature, that affect your longevity. Stress influences how you see the world and whether you wake up each day invigorated by a greater purpose.
Inspiring a life of stress-less leadership includes creating organizational change. Your work environment has a profound impact on your longevity. From job security to health insurance to wellness programs, workplace policies affect your well-being. You can drive efforts to develop an employee assistance program or implement wellness programs such as yoga classes to inspire a stress-less environment. Great companies consider time-off policies, pay inequality, benefits, and other aspects of their business when creating policies to combat stress.
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