How to use stress as an ally

In reasonable proportions some stress can be a good ally to level up skills and reach better performance (or improve some of your gaps). Stress boosts your adrenaline, it compels you to act.

It’s a great way to fight procrastination and challenge comfort zones, two of our biggest gate keepers or immobilizers. You’re under stress when you expect something. You don’t stress over past experience (at most you might stress over its impact on the future).

Below are some examples easy to grab or adopt test or challenge your limits and exercise the use “stress” as your ally. You don’t need to excel, just to improve.

  • Deadlines: Don’t be afraid of shorter deadlines.
    • We hate deadlines, especially when you’re caught by surprise and your first reaction would be “it’s impossible”. When you have a comfortable deadline you take your time. You don’t start today. You tell yourself “tomorrow”. You’ll probably finish on time with no worry along the way. But is this the ideal scenario? Wouldn’t you benefit if you had to stretch yourself and test some boundaries? “Forced” to be more creative, to call off your spontaneity, efficiency and productivity.
  • Projects: Accept/propose to run projects
    • Projects very often put you unease or you look at them as useless. Reset your mindset. Think of it as an occasion to boost several of your skills and knowledge. Areas like coordination, preparation, selection, pulling things together, managing complex situations, problem solving capacity and so on.
  • Business Presentations: Volunteer to make presentations
    • Why do you hate them? Pushes you out of your comfort zone? Puts you on the spotlight? What fears do you need to fight?What best way could you have to share your knowledge, ideas, project skills, communication and interact with colleagues or stakeholders? Start in your small team and take it from there to higher crowds.
  • Debating: Debating ideas and exposing your reasoning
    • Use Team meetings, family reunions, business or personal gatherings to throw themes into discussions. To debate, to challenge, to articulate, and to seek other perspectives and standpoints, to observe other ways of thinking or reasoning. To listen.
  • Public Speaking: Small gatherings, family, friends or colleagues
    • OK this isn’t an easy one. Or let me put it the right way, it’s an easy one but it’s one of the biggest phobias of almost any of us. At same time, it’s one of the best achievements we can reach for that same reason. Again start with a small crowd, at your house, during anniversaries, at your sports club, and leverage from there.
  • Failure: It might go wrong and you might risk your image.
    • But what if it goes right? Do you want to live as an average? Wouldn’t you dare to risk excellence? What do you have to lose anyway? Image? Perception? Your own perception or how you’re perceived? We all have this “defensive mode” of protecting our image and carry on with our lives on the defensive side. That could be ok, at the same time it can be such a waste. Do you think Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, never failed? Did it stop them to keep chasing excellence? As long as you’re honest with yourself and the others, your image is taken care.  Do you think a stand-up comedian doesn’t have fear before stepping on stage? What makes them move forward? Stepping on that stage. Otherwise they would be on the ground just operating the curtains, the sound system, or watching the show together with the rest of the crowd.

Think about those examples above. You don’t have to try them all at once, pick one today or this week. Embrace the challenge. Just imagine yourself overcoming that stressful moment. Remember, all that exists today was once imagined by someone. Therefore take that step to slowly move from an  image or dream to real life. Intentions won’t improve your life. Neither Decision. Actions will.

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