Recently, I heard of a woman in Sterling, Virginia, sentenced to three-and-a-half years for putting Windex and Ajax in the company coffee pot. Really? When asked why she did it, she replied that she wanted to make her boss sick. That’s one kind of stress.
Then there’s the kind of stress that they are experiencing in the White House, in which the staff must begin to feel something like what King Henry VIII’s wives felt. You never know when you might be the next to get beheaded.
And of course, there’s the sweet dog groomer down the street who has few clients one week, none the next and then is packed the next. It’s difficult to plan and difficult to predict her income flow.
There’s the high profile attorney in town who’s been accused of sexual harassment, and the gregarious ever-present chamber member everyone knows and loves who was convicted of embezzlement.
A local hairdresser woke up one morning to find that 90 percent of his staff up and left in the middle of the night to start their own salon. One senior woman in a company came in to work on a Monday morning to find her desk chair missing. Apparently the new girl didn’t have one, so she just helped herself. Hmmm.
Stress -- it’s everywhere. You just never know. It shows its face in a myriad of ways and many different levels of intensity, but it seems it’s always just around the corner waiting to pounce. So what do you do? There’s no way of predicting who in your office might be thinking of putting Windex in the coffee.
Stress is unpredictable. Other people are unpredictable. So it boils down to you. You must learn to develop a strong internal locus of control, digging your roots in deep so that you never get blown over by the winds of fortune and circumstance. Here are 10 essential principles from Zentivity: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress and Discontent in Your Workplace. They will help you get grounded, so that you feel confident, calm and secure when things get crazy.
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1. Connect with your creator.
It’s important to develop some kind of regular grounding practice that fits into your schedule. Meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, yoga -- something that slows you down enough to allow you to experience your connection to all that is and hear the still small voice of wisdom that dwells within you.
2. Know your true identity.
When you spend time connecting to the source of all things, you begin to realize that if you are one with all of that, how can one person’s seemingly crazy opinion rattle you? You are no longer subject to what other people think. It becomes clear that their opinion or lack of integrity or lazy work ethic doesn’t have to throw you off balance.
3. Nurture awareness.
You begin to realize where you stop and others begin. Just because they are acting crazy doesn’t mean that you have to jump on that bus. Just because their hair is on fire, doesn’t mean your hair is on fire.
4. Just breathe.
This is my favorite. It’s tattooed on my wrist. If things get crazy or stressful or abusive, take a breath. A deep breath. Or two. To create a moment of distance between yourself and the drama, so you are free to think clearly.
5. Respect yourself.
Remember people only treat you like you allow them to treat you. You must first and foremost, respect yourself enough to maintain healthy boundaries. Someone else’s emergency is not necessarily your emergency. Someone else’s opinion doesn’t have to be your opinion. You are secure enough to allow others to be who they are without getting sucked into their drama.
6. Practice gratitude.
Just like a regular practice of meditation, practicing gratitude on a regular basis actually changes your brain. It relaxes you and helps you to think more clearly.
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7. Limit judgments.
Judgmental people are negative people. They create strife and division. Strife and division cause stress. Limit your time with those people. Don’t be one.
Detachment is not the same as disinterest. You may be very interested in what is happening, but you cannot allow yourself to jump into a tar pit of drama because everyone else is jumping. You must be the one who stands on the edge, taking a deep breath and considering all the options.
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9. Communicate clearly and effectively.
In the workplace, as in your personal relationships, assumptions can be deadly. Learn to ask for what you need, say what you want, request clarification when you are confused. Good communication is essential for increased productivity. And learn to listen.
10. Forgive quickly.
You absolutely must let those resentments and the need for revenge go. Even if someone puts Windex in your coffee. The more time you spend focusing on the problem, the culprit, the unfairness of a situation, the more time you lose creating a solution. You must learn to let things go. Not because they don’t matter. Not because they aren’t important. And not because what the other person did is OK. But, because you are called to be a leader and you can’t lead if your feet are stuck in the mire.
Practice the principles on a regular basis. Get support when you need it. Continue to be the lighthouse of inspiration and leadership that you are called to be.
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