Stress is defined in the dictionary as a “demand on mental or physical energy”.  While it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate stress from work or life, you most certainly can reduce it.  Below are nine stressors that could be classified as stress catalysts in the workplace.  But also realize for the most part, you bring them on yourself.  Stress is a choice.  The part(s) of this information that bothers you the most is probably where the greatest lesson lives.  The top cause of stress in the workplace is your own management style.  It’s true, where stress is concerned human beings are their own worst enemy.

High levels of stress are found in managers who …………….

Never learn to say “no”.  Stop letting your mouth overload your back.  What is one thing you are currently considering doing that you should say no to?

Do too much and don’t delegate enough.  There is no shame in giving up to go up. There is great shame in spending so much time on the less important projects that you have no time left for the ultimate.  What is one thing you will give up to you can go up?

Operate out of instinct rather than disciplined preparation and process.  The more you prepare the less you will have to repair.  High achievers aren’t foolish enough to try and “wing” their way to the next level.  Experts suggest that the ratio of preparation:time saved in execution is 3:1. Typically 10 minutes of preparation saves 30 minutes of execution.  One hour of preparation saves three hours of execution.  And so on. Preparation also builds confidence which is a primary stress reducer.  Not preparing is a choice.  What is one thing you can do immediately to improve your level of preparation?

Can’t handle criticism well.  Even the most seemingly unfair criticism often has a grain of truth in it.  Before you get stressed out and dismiss your next critic, seek that one biting bit of truth to help you grow.  Not handling criticism well is a choice.  What piece of criticism received lately should you re-evaluate with a more open mind?

Procrastinate.  Procrastination immobilizes you and stresses you out repeatedly – over usually the same issue.  Developing the discipline to make yourself do what you don’t want to do but know you should is key to growing as a leader and eliminating huge amounts of stress.  To do this you’ll have to toughen up, tighten up and grow up. Procrastination is a choice.  What have you been putting off that is causing you stress?

Engage in blame games.  Focusing on blame rather than solutions creates stress and prolongs the problem.  This includes the time you spend blaming yourself rather than fixing your mess.  Rather than blame ask yourself “what can we do now to fix this” and “how can we make sure it doesn’t happen again” or “what can I learn about his that will make me more effective”.  Blaming is a choice.  What or whom has you so consumed with blame that focusing on solutions seems impossible?

Make convenient decisions rather than decisions of integrity.  Integrity means you act and make decisions in accordance with pre-prescribed values.  When you make decisions that violate your personal or corporate values you will feel stress.  Have you defined your personal and corporate values?  I call this a “leadership brand” – an exercise worth looking into.  Unless you decide to stand for something specific you’ll tend to fall for everything in general.  Not making decisions of integrity is a choice.  Should you establish or revive your leadership brand?

Are dishonest.  You can always try and rationalize why it’s best to do what is easy, cheap, popular or convenient, rather than what is right.  Ultimately you fool no one, lose everything and destroy yourself.  Being dishonest is a choice.  What should you stop doing or start doing to align your actions with what you know is right?

Work in areas outside their strength zone.  Working in areas outside your strength zone make you feel awkward, inferior and incompetent.  All of these create stress.  You can’t ultimately feel good about yourself until you are working in “the zone”.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new things but it does mean you are better off if the new things build on current strengths and when you realize you are not fit for something that you have the good sense not to engage in it.  Are your currently involved in something that is clearly outside your area of strength?  Does it make sense for you to continue and if so how can you create the strength needed to succeed?

Nine reasons – nine questions.  Imagine what might happen if you seriously considered even two?

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