Are You Hot Under the Collar?

Posted on August 4, 2015.

2015 has been the hottest on Earth’s record, but I don’t need to read The Washington Post to know that. All I have to do is open the door and let the DC summer air flood my foyer with unbearably swampy heat.

It’s during weather like this I find myself reflecting on staying cool at work. Not in the literal sense - if your office is anything like mine, the temperature is positively glacial. I’m talking about handling pressure and interpersonal challenges without breaking a sweat.

Being a manager is complex. To be successful, you must simultaneously act as mentor, taskmaster, diplomat, problem solver, number cruncher and herder of cats. Plus, as manager, you’re the leader of a team for which you answer to your boss. 

Juggling all that without missing a beat takes a cool head and a steady hand. Though I’d love to offer you a quick and easy solution to staying calm under pressure, the truth is there’s no fast fix. However, there are tools that can help you become an unflappable and effective manager. With the help of some of my favorite stress-busting quotes, I’ve outlined them below.

“That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”

–      Chinese Proverb

Focusing on all the things you can’t control adds fuel to the stress fire, but being proactive is an empowering, effective stress-buster.  So, concentrate on what you can influence.  For example, if you’re working under a deadline and are anxious about all of the moving parts, review the timeline with team members and offer your support. Or perhaps there’s a developing personnel issue.  Review company policies and procedures and take the steps required to address the problem.

      "No matter how great the talent or efforts, some thing just take time. You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant."

- Warren Buffett

Getting amped up and rushing every time there’s a small fire is counter-productive. Make a habit of waiting a beat for your mind to settle, even if that means several deep breaths or a walk to get coffee.  The simple act of cultivating patience will enable you to see your way through challenges with ease.

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — either way you're right."

-       Henry Ford

Your response to adversity sets the tone.  Take a negative, frenzied approach and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Endeavor instead to be positive. I’m not saying we should all run around singing “Kumbaya” – not only would that be annoying, there are off-the-charts difficult people and situations in every workplace.  Still, contributing more negativity to an acrimonious atmosphere only makes things worse, which in turn will stress you out.  Think and act constructively and the outcome will likely mirror your efforts.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

- Robert Frost

Call me crazy, but few things that happen at the office are life or death.  Still, too often we treat everything like a crisis or top priority. Volunteer, take a yoga class, read a book, go hiking…anything that will put office issues in proper perspective.  By doing so, you’ll discover a new ability to calmly problem-solve even in the tensest of situations.