Stress: Choose Your Response

Turn Stress into Good Stress by Choosing Your Response

Life is a parade of stress-inducing situations ever looming on the horizon. Which helps explain why, the more you resist stress, resist the inevitable, the more painful it becomes. For instance, say that your stress was an egg. And imagine squeezing and squeezing that egg. It’d finally crack under the pressure, right? What a mess! But if you gently hold the egg, you can easily handle it.

Stress can Make us Stronger, Smarter and Happier

In a Stanford News article by Clifton B. Parker, the author interviewed Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal who talked about her research indicating that “stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier – if we learn how to open our minds to it.”

McGonigal states that “The three most protective beliefs about stress are: 

1) to view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating – for example, to view stress as energy you can use; 

2) to view yourself as able to handle, and even learn and grow from, the stress in your life; and 

3) to view stress as something that everyone deals with, and not something that proves how uniquely screwed up you or your life is.”

... a cascade of health-promoting physical responses

Studies have shown that when we embrace stress, our bodies release a cascade of health-promoting physical responses. A life-saving “biology of courage” that helps you endure and thrive even under the most daunting, stressful conditions.

A mindset reset

In a Q&A with the Rotman School of Business, McGonigal responded to one of the questions with the following: “The profound ‘mindset reset’ that I’m encouraging involves embracing stress because you understand that there is no way to live a stress-free life, and that the presence of stress in our lives is important to being human. We need stress in order to experience the things we want most in life — whether it’s health, happiness, love or growth. I am convinced that when you choose to see the upside of stress, you increase your resilience, add meaning to your life and make more personal connections.”

A story from real life

In 2008, my husband, Stan, of 8 years was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. “Sorry, the horse is out of the barn” is what we were told over and over. Sorry, too late for surgery, the horse is out of the barn. Sorry, too late for radiation, the horse is out of the barn. “Maybe oncology can help.”  

In no time at all, here we were, our world suddenly turned absolutely upside down. It felt surreal and almost like we were watching ourselves in a movie. Alas, an oncologist who embraced Stan’s situation and wasn’t about to allow the horse to keep running until Stan ran out of breath. Instead, he told us that “Sometimes aggressive cancers respond to aggressive treatment.” Okay then – let’s get started, we responded. Keep in  mind, he continued “you have less than a 5% chance of living 5 years.”

That was a defining moment and one filled with immense stress – the life or death kind…literally. At that moment, we had a choice, we could feel defeated, go the chemo course and hope for the best.

Instead, we chose our stress response. For Stan, it was an attitude of I’m not ready to leave my wife and my family – I still have so much to live for. Stan also looked at the odds and chose to respond by taking on the perspective that somebody is in that 5% that makes it so it’s going to be him.

The stress response I chose was one of combating this evil force. I could see it, it had a shape, it had a colour and it was voracious. Well guess what, I could be voracious back – “no I’m not going to let you win” I thought. 

Our stress responses were a choice and with choice comes power. There is so much more about this journey but today I just want to focus on just one of the techniques for mastering stress – choosing your stress response.

That choice is what kept me going as the caregiver, researcher, on-demand cook, chauffeur, part-time coach, communications head and wife. My choice gave me the courage that I needed to continue although inside I was filled with fear, particularly in the early days.

Later that year...

Months later, as my husband continued to make phenomenal progress and defy the odds, the oncologist shared that when he first saw Stan, he didn’t expect him to live 6  weeks! In fact, he said that the majority of people that don’t choose a positive stress response don’t make it.

There were so many life lessons learned in that time and yes, Stan continues to be super healthy and almost impossible to keep up with as we approach the 12.5 year mark as I write.

Where to start

How can you shift your perspective to choose new ways of responding to stress so that you turn stress into good stress?

This week’s worksheet for my e-zine Brain Food Friday readers guides the reader through a brief exercise of choice.. If you want to receive access to my worksheets, sign up to receive my monthly blog in your inbox by clicking on the round green “click here” button. You’ll start receiving Brain Food Friday in your inbox the first Friday of each month along with a link to a corresponding worksheet.

3 Ways Authentic Leaders Benefit From a Higher EQ

3 Ways Authentic Leaders Benefit From Higher EQ

Authentic leaders know that consciously working on their emotional intelligence (EI) or EQ (Emotional Quotient) score is not only critical to leadership success but also a life-long journey. 

According to TTI Talent Insights, a higher EQ makes you a better authentic leader by:

Focus on Yourself....

As you become more and more self-aware, you are then more able to self-regulate and ultimately improve your relationships with others.

Improving Rapport, Connection & Communication....

An authentic leader consistently behaves in congruence with their values, the organization’s mission, and makes people proud to work under this leader. The authentic leader that is socially aware and is mastering social regulation, understands the emotions of others and how to positively influence the emotional clarity of others. In other words, the authentic leader is very skilled at the art of observation and active listening.

Increasing Your Empathy....

The authentic leader inspires their people to believe in themselves and their work. This is that internal motivation is the “fire” that goes beyond external drive. Your internal fire will inspire others to light their own internal fires.

Click on the button below to obtain your copy of the 3 Ways EQ Makes You a Better Leader Infographic

Don’t hesitate to contact me to learn how EQ can become part of your learning and development plans strategy. Simply send me an email to begin the conversation.

Influence: Art & Science

Influence: An Art & A Science

Leaders often find themselves in high-stakes influence conversations. Influence is having a conversation with a clear outcome, so that the other person thinks, feels and behaves how you wanted them to think, feel and behave…with authenticity and without manipulation.

The most successful leaders....

The most successful leaders influence others to embrace and implement their ideas. There is an art and a science to influence, and to knowing the right conversations to have with others in order to get results, while still keeping the relationship strong.

Do you know someone that is an effective influencer? How would you describe that person? Certainly well developed emotional intelligence comes to mind. But what else? What’s the secret?

Can you relate to any of these statements?

You can learn

There are steps you can take to learn that art and science of influence. One of the steps involves being prepared and having your bases covered before going into a high-stakes conversation.

Click on the worksheet image to the right to download your copy of our Influence Planning Tool.

Being prepared and anticipating situations will help you move the yardstick in the direction you want.

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Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back?

According to the Institute of Coaching, “We each carry a set of beliefs that we live by. Certain beliefs you hold consciously, while others are mainly unconscious. Beliefs develop out of past experiences and our interpretations of those experiences. Growing up, we also develop beliefs when we internalize the messages we receive from social conditioning. Since many beliefs are based on past experiences, they may limit us in the present. For example, a pertinent belief at age ten will most likely be limiting to you at age thirty. Some of the conscious and unconscious beliefs that you develop limit your ability to grow and move forward in your life.”

One example might be to make a certain income which would be a sign of success. Yet, it doesn’t happen and you’re not sure why. Upon reflection and perhaps some skillful coaching, you might uncover that you have a limiting belief around making more money.  The IOC continues in saying, “Until you begin to alter your beliefs about money, it will be difficult for you to listen to your inner voice and its messages to you about financial abundance.”  

This is only one example of a limiting belief. There are many more. 

So why would you want to challenge yourself and your limiting beliefs? Because, it’s what will shatter that glass or concrete ceiling that is holding you back. As the IOC states, “Releasing a belief that limits you puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life. You, rather than an old belief, make the choices that are right for you and allow you to fulfill your potential.”

Want to explore more about limiting beliefs? Then join me on Monday, March 8th at noon (EST) for my International Women’s Day 30-min Brown Bag Lunch n’ Learn  “Up Your Game: Choose to Challenge Yourself” webinar in honour of this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge. There is no charge for the event and it’s open to everyone, not just those that identify as women. It’s time to up your game and challenge yourself! 

To learn more about this complimentary event, click on the button below to be redirected to our IWD 2021 #ChooseToChallenge event page.