Find Something to Stress You Out
We try to put certain high-level goals first: happiness, love, relationships, relaxation, and so forth. In an effort to experience joy, we run from the idea of conflict, hoping to find nirvana simply by ignoring certain feelings, or battles.
Conflicts elicit a reaction inside of us. Based on our previous experience, we make decisions on how to behave. In order to succeed in your quest for happiness, love, or business, we must learn to control our thoughts and feelings in times of conflict.
For most of us, the stressors we face are not things that will kill us. It’s a “to-do” that we forgot to complete; an unexpected email from an unhappy customer; a disruptive change in your industry. In this holiday season, we'll face the added pressures of gift giving, deal making and traveling. Things that are scary on the surface, but of course can do no real damage to your physical body.
This knowledge informs my belief that you can and should be fearless, especially in modern times.
Fearlessness in battle, gives you the upper hand. Many of us have seen that battle scene where the leader of an army commands from the head of their battalion. Their fearlessness promotes confidence in their soldiers and also seems to create an invisible safety bubble around them. It’s as though they can’t be hit when they’re in this state.
When you learn to embrace the inevitable stress and conflict in your business, you too can be untouchable. Learning fearlessness is a process of introspection and reflection. Understanding why you react certain ways to stressors, or automatic-negative-thoughts, gives you valuable insight about yourself. It may shed light on past experiences that are still influencing your reactions today. The more self-aware you become, the more control you possess in future moments of conflict.
Not only is it productive to analyze what stresses you out, it’s also amazingly calming. The more aware you become, the more you can step back and see the situation for what it is. Analyzing reality for what it is, instead of glazing over it with a glossy facade, helps you to see things clearly. That leads to unexpected insight into your life and business situations.
You’ll find that many of the stressful things you experience become motivators and catalysts to drive life forward.
As an army’s units become more experienced with battle, so do you. In each moment you can choose to embrace the situation for what it is or let those negative thoughts take over. It’s a battle against yourself: your battles to deal with your running thoughts, your education, your family and friend’s opinions of what you should think, and everything else that goes on. When you enter each situation ready for battle, you’ll find that each scenario is put in your path to learn from.
Instead of running from conflict, run to it. Exposing yourself to new conflict is a great way to drive you forward. Throwing yourself into what might feel like harm's way, creates an experience in your life that you can build off of. It may even give you a capacity for patience and kindness you may have lacked otherwise.
I’ve never had a real job. When I finished high school, I was given the choice between college or heading to a retreat center where I would be in charge of 8 workers, all of whom didn’t like me. Not only would they work for me, we’d also all live together. Obviously, I chose the retreat center.
My first night there was not exactly encouraging. I hadn’t met anyone yet, and my introduction to them was through the window of the staff quarters; I was not invited inside. The table was littered with open beer cans, a half-empty bottle of vodka, and a huge pinecone the cat used as a back scratcher.
I said “hello,” and they all took a drink together and said, “we don’t want you here.” It was pretty dark and honestly scary to me at the time. I spun around quickly and went down to what would become my office. I unlocked it, curled into a ball and spent the rest of the night in that very spot.
Projecting what the future looked like in that situation was difficult, but the next few years provided me with the education of a lifetime. The best part was that I got paid to learn it. Instead of staying home and becoming a couch potato, I decided to put myself in a position that would teach me how to run a successful business: from hiring and firing, to budgeting and marketing, and much more.
If you tell yourself “The kids are being too demanding" or "I can’t get this done because I’m too busy,” guess what? You’ll be right.
If you find that you’re too tired to accomplish anything, you might look at things you can cut out to make yourself less busy. That will surely make you more productive. Wrong.
When you find yourself stuck; when you’re not making enough; when you have writer's block, get up and do something crazy. The busier you are, the more productive you can be, as long as you embrace the busy-ness with the proper self-awareness. Don’t just run around looking busy.
If you’re overstressed, put a positive spin on the cause of stress and work towards reducing it. If you’re under-stressed, realized you can be more productive if you spice things up a little bit. Get a job that challenges your skills, go back to school, just go do something different for a change and let that provide the motivation juice you need to get sh** done.