Fire Up!

Mind Over Matters

Long hours, demanding customers, no steady paycheck--every type of business has its unique pressure points. Why do some entrepreneurs handle stress with confidence and poise, while others panic, paralyzed by anxiety?

"A continuous lack of peace of mind is the starting point of stress, negativity, unhappiness and mental breakdown," says Brian Tracy, one of America's leading authorities on personal effectiveness and author of Maximum Achievement (Simon & Schuster, $12, 619-481-2977), "If you make peace of mind your highest goal, you'll not only be happier, but you'll also be more successful in business."

How to achieve peace of mind? Tracy offers the following tips to help you break free from anxiety and perform your best under stress:

1. Accept 100 percent responsibility for your decisions. "No matter what the circumstance, if you repeat `I am responsible [for my response],' over and over until you really mean it, you have taken the first step to getting control of your emotions and your responses."

2. Prioritize your activities. "The best question you can memorize and repeat, over and over, is `What is the most valuable use of my time right now?' The self-discipline of organizing your work and focusing on your highest- value tasks is the starting point to getting your time under control and lowering your stress levels."

3. Concentrate your efforts on one activity at a time. "The ability to concentrate single-mindedly is probably the rarest quality in the American workplace. The most important tasks take large chunks of time. Plan and organize your days in such a way that you allocate these chunks of time so that you can do the jobs upon which your success depends."

Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

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This article was originally published in the November 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fire Up!.

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