As leaders, how do we accept the inevitable missteps and failures that result in stress when we are implementing new ideas and methods in our attempt at innovation?

There are so many studies on the effects of stress and some can be misleading.  Not all stress contributes to illness and it often depends on the individual as to their make-up to take stress and energize themselves with it.  Others will avoid stress at all costs and simply not expose themselves to challenge the status quo and take ownership in presenting thoughtful, detailed presentations to tasks or demanding events. 

A positive attitude is vitally important in life and will be an asset to approaching stress.  When I worked with Steve Spurrier at the Washington Redskins, although I was not on the coaching staff, I was in pro personnel and worked with the staff daily on the opponents personnel packages and the individual players strengths and weakness as how they fit schematically.  Coach Spurrier would be classified as a high stress/low illness executive.  He was committed to various other parts of his life.  It was clear that family, God, and golf (and I’m not quite sure of that order!) provided him with a sense of control over the happenings in his professional life and he always appeared to experience challenge as a positive.

High stress/high illness executives are more alienated as the pressures rise and they feel they are becoming powerless seeing change more of a threat than as a challenge.  I feel fortunate not to have worked with anyone directly that manifested stress in this manner although I have been exposed to executives above me that experienced the challenge of change as harmful and a developing panic ensued.

When under stress, stayed focused on your commitment and command control over the presented challenge.  This will create an environment that develops tough-minded people and will ward off illness.  Remain steadfast in your vision and build a sense of control by choosing endeavors that are challenging but within the skill level of your people executing the task by offering more rewards than punishment to build commitment.  Daily notes of praise and encouragement or attainable incentive bonuses will produce the desired effects.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I attended nine different schools in five different states before graduating high school.  My mother made each move an adventure and took the attitude that it was time to really clean the house anyway, so we might as well move!  She built an attitude of challenge and encouraged my brother, sister, and I to see change as full of possibilities.  This created a level of excitement toward the project of the upheaval of our lives into a positive atmosphere that change is good and does not have to be stressful.

How you handle stress will define you as a leader.  View stress as self-imposed and take a positive approach and turn it into vigorous action.  What time are we teeing-off Coach Spurrier?


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