Friday, February 12, 2010


At it says this about stress:
8. physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.

Usually we think of this when we hear the word stress. I’ve often said that stress is caused by “how we choose to react to a situation”. Choosing our reaction to unpleasant events or circumstances is no easy feat. I’ve practiced trying to choose a less harmful reaction for some time. It’s not always easy. Fact is it’s often very hard. But I keep trying. I’m stubborn like that. My wife says that sometimes I’m relentless. Wow…that sounds powerful…truth is I’m just pig headed.

It’s no secret the world economy is in the dumper, and we here in Hawaii are not exempt. Neither are our local businesses. Each week I hear about another filing bankruptcy or closing down. In the past five years I’ve seen a number of my long time customers close shop. People with years of experience, who rode the ups & downs of business, and just couldn’t continue. Being good isn’t enough anymore…the situation has changed that much. It’s hard to deal with when you discover the skills and strategies you’ve spent a lifetime learning just don’t work anymore. Heck some things that worked 5 years ago don’t work anymore. Some from last year don’t work…quite a cycle to keep up with. Facing that…it could be tough to choose a positive reaction. Enter what we know as stress.

I’m a small business person. Been at it for a long time. Learned a lot. Forgot more. Tried not to make the same mistakes twice. But the current climate is working every talent and strategy I have. I’m scrambling for sure. It’s very tiring. And last week I noticed it creeping into my home life. Not. Good. At. All. I needed a personal re-boot and I needed it quick. How? I learned this technique from Scott Smith’s podcast ( You stand up and start pacing the room (best done when alone). As you pace, you say out loud what’s stressing you. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to trigger a response. Sometimes it brings me back down, realizing I was getting all nuts over nothing really. Other times it comes harder…ideas fly, considered and discarded, like sorting through my mental “messy desk”. Most times I walk away with a plan of action, but not always. The success rate is high enough for me to keep trying this. Even when I don’t get a usable plan from it, I at least get some relief from the energy spent. Not as physical as a workout, but that kind of endorphin high. Even if I’m no closer to an answer, I feel better about the situation. God willing I’ll wake up the next day to try again…the fight isn’t over. Sometimes all I need is to know I still got fight in me to make me feel better. I must not be alone, 20 years ago Styx did a song about it…

“I’m not dead yet - not dead yet
I’m a mad dog fighting with the wall against my back
You’d better get a bigger gun, I’m not dead yet”

Hey stress, you lookin at me?

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