I recently came across a term I hadn’t heard before, ‘succ-stress-ful’. As someone who loves to play with words, I was intrigued by the thoughts that it provoked. While the article defined it as ‘An existence when you are equally as stressed out as you are successful.’, my concern is that people find it hard to separate success from stress.
I get it, we’ve been brought up to believe that hard work leads to success, and that hard work is often stressful. However - we need to be clear that there is a difference between the two. Being stressed causes the brain to release adrenalin and cortisol which in the short term can be effective to get the blood pumping and juices flowing. If we fall into the trap that success and stress are inseparable, over the long term this is detrimental to our health and consequently our performance.
Knowing how to get out of chaos, stress or overwhelm and into control and service (thus enabling you to succeed) requires you to identify what that triggers you and how you will deal with these when they next arise. It also requires knowing how you intend to define success and creating your critical path to move towards. Know those things and you’re in good shape.
Take a moment to consider the following 7 questions. These will help you assess whether your tendency is stress or success and help set you up for your best crunch time yet*.
How do you feel in the week leading up to crunch time? Excited? Energetic? Despondent? Detached? This sets the scene going into crunch time and will indicate whether you’re more likely to flex toward chaos (stress) or service (success).
During crunch time, do you find yourself primarily reacting and responding? Or do you assess and address issues before they arise?
Do you take the time to challenge timelines and deadlines provided to you? Not all deadlines are created equal.
Think about the last time you responded impulsively to something or someone. Who or what was the cause?
On a recent episode of TV sitcom 'Modern Family’, younger daughter Alex tested out the carrot and stick theory on her family. Are you primarily motivated by reducing the risk of error (‘CYA’ mentality) or are you motivated by the opportunity to find the right answer the right way?
Do you spend most of your time pouring over a spreadsheet or regulatory guidance at your desk working (think head in hands or staring into space distracted), or having conversations (which are sometimes challenging) to actively problem solve and remove roadblocks?
How much does your calendar reflect your actions and do the items scheduled move you towards completing crunch time?
Knowing the answers to the above questions will help you determine:
your energy going into crunch time. This will impact the resilience you have to draw upon when times get tough.
what triggers you and therefore what tactics you need in place to reduce the impact of those triggers.
how you can modify your way of working to regain control and put yourself in a position to be more effectively in service of your clients.
Crunch times are hard, and by definition there will be moments of stress and pressure.
Just don’t fall into the trap that success means stress. A lot of this is within your control.
For 30 June-rs, not long to go now. Don’t think you need to overcook it. You’ve got enough on your plate. Keep it simple (doable without excuse) and visible (easy to access when you’re finding it hard to think).
It's your choice.
*for more practical tips, download my free Crunch Time guide, ’Take Control during Crunch Times’ here.
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org