You notice that you’re not at your best when you’re anxious, don’t you?
Whether it’s sports, relationships or business, anxiety is clearly detrimental to peak performance. Sure, a little stress is a good motivator, but does yours sometimes grow into impeding anxiety?
The facts are that when you’re very calm, relaxed and centered (aka “in flow” or “in the zone”) you’re much more capable of operating optimally.
And consistently feeling calm, relaxed and centered can be a challenge for leaders when business pressures are full on.
When anxiety becomes an issue, as it is for a few people at the moment, what can you do about it? How can you help, and be a role model, for your team members and others around you?
Although anxiety and stress are serious issues, the good news is that you can quickly replace these discomforting and sometimes debilitating states with composure and calmness. How? Well, first you need to understand what’s actually going on. It’s remarkably simple really…
What Causes You to Feel Anxious in the First Place?
Here it is…the one thing that causes you to feel anxious:
You’re imagining that what you don’t want to happen is going to happen!
It is actually as straightforward as that—you’re visualising something unwanted occurring.
Recall something you’re feeling anxious about…isn’t your mind taking you to the place of playing out an unpleasant scenario?
Here’s a quick example…
Swimming with Sharks!
Whilst swimming in the ocean I sometimes experience anxiety—when I imagine a shark is nearby and getting ready to bite me. I’ve been focusing on the thing that I don’t want to happen!
Conversely, my husband never feels anxious about swimming in the ocean—because the idea that a shark’s nearby doesn’t enter his head.
Here’s a second example:
A CEO Under Pressure!
XYZ Company has announced some “horror” financial results. If you have nothing to do with XYZ Company, this announcement would probably not cause you too much anxiety…simply because you don’t go down the track of imagining something unpleasant happening to you.
But—if you were the CEO of XYZ Company it would probably be quite a different story, wouldn’t it? It would be difficult to resist imagining being roasted by your Board, by market analysts and the media. As CEO you might even be focusing on not getting your bonus and even being fired!
All this imagining is surely going to result in you having highly elevated anxiety levels.
And remember those highly elevated anxiety levels are going to prevent you from being at your best…at a time when you probably most need to be at your best. Yikes!
Your Leadership Call to Action
Your task is to recall what’s been tugging at your anxiety strings…and then consciously rein-in your imagination.
- Recall something that has been causing you anxiety—and for just 20-seconds, track your thoughts.
When you think about the issue that has been anxiety inducing, what are you imagining? Are you visualising what you don’t want to happen
- Is that outcome highly likely? Are you habitually anticipating the worst?
Are there other possible outcomes that are just as likely, or even more likely, than the one you’ve been focussing on?
Being aware of these thoughts has you stepping onto the first rung of the anxiety-free ladder—and you can only operate optimally when you’ve climbed this ladder.
Once you’ve habituated this awareness, you’ll be able to take the next steps that will completely zap your anxiety.
This will be the focus of your next bulletin. We’ll look at a straightforward, researched, three-step method for removing your uneasiness and creating calmness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.