The headline here comes from a two-year-old story in Forbes magazine, written by Jenna Goudreau, that relies heavily on quotes and information from a business psychologist named Sharon Melnick. Melnick had then just written a book called, “Success Under Stress.”
This is probably as good a time as any to talk about workplace stress. Specifically, what you can control within a situation that might feel out of your control. In fact, it is that feeling of lack of control that researchers, including Melnick, say is a prime factor in the feeling of stress that we all have at one time or another in our workplace.
Goudreau runs through a series of tips and all of them are good. Most you have heard before. (Take a deep breath, eat right, sleep well, etc.) I wanted to focus on one of those tips because it seems particularly apropos for those of us who tell stories for a living. Melnick suggests you change your own story.
“Your perspective of stressful office events is typically a subjective interpretation of the facts, often seen through the filter of your own self-doubt,” Goudreau writes. Read that again. She is suggesting that your perception of stress is greatly affected by the story you tell yourself about what is going on. No one is saying that the events surrounding you at work aren’t inherently stressful. In fact, many of us are secretly drawn to this business because we thrive on the stress that comes with hurriedly reporting things that are newsworthy. Add to that good stress the kind that comes with a challenged industry and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Melnick suggests you think about what you can control… that story you tell yourself. …
The basis for that story is this: The macro-economic forces that are buffeting your job today are not a personal affront. You do yourself a favor if you recognize that and, instead of becoming angry or defensive, look for solutions that distinguish you as creative, knowledgeable and diligent. Instead of making yourself the aggrieved and powerless peon in your personal narrative, seek a more meaningful position in your own tale. If you can do so, I imagine you will feel better about yourself and better about your work.
End of sermon. You can always call me if you need to vent or are feeling overwhelmed.