“Stress is good for me – it helps me succeed” – a common misconception I bought into for years.
Most leaders think stress helps them achieve. The truth is, stress-driven success is neither sustainable nor fulfilling.
Negative emotions like stress CAN be motivating and PUSH you to achieve. But I find the successful leaders and business owners driven by high levels of stress are not genuinely happy. They don’t sleep well at night.
What if you could achieve success AND happiness? What if you could be PULLED forward by positive emotions such as joyful creativity, innovation, and curious exploration?
The high achievers I work with are doing well when they come to me - they're smart, driven, hardworking leaders - good at putting in the work and fostering relationships that support and nurture their work or business. They’re successful, but not necessarily happy, not always working in flow, and usually stressed out.
These high achievers know there is another level for them - if only they could access it - there'd be the opportunity to be truly happy enjoying work without the underlying stress and anxiety that takes up so much of their precious energy. Diverting that energy into positive pursuits accelerates their impact at work, in their business and out in the world, taking them to a whole new level of success.
Stress is about as useful to us as pain.
When you feel pain from burning yourself on a hot stove, it serves an important survival purpose – keeping you safe. You immediately react, taking your hand off the stove and move to a positive response to soothe the burn.
Similarly, feeling stress is an important warning sign, telling us something’s up that threatens our wellbeing. KEEPING yourself in that stressed out state however is tantamount to keeping your hand on the hot stove – making decisions and finding innovative solutions to move your forward are least likely from a place of high stress.
Most of your stress comes from fears about ‘bad’ outcomes e.g. ‘I’m screwed if I fail at this project’ or ‘I’m screwed if I lose this job’ – not helpful thoughts.
Think about something that is causing you stress right now and ask yourself:
Q: What is the ‘bad’ outcome I'm worrying about?
Q: What’s the worse outcome that could happen?
Q: What ways could I eventually convert that worst outcome into a gift or
Then do your best to ensure the good outcome while remembering even if the bad outcome did happen, you’d be just fine.
For example, I supported a client to imagine the worst outcome of failure in a big project and losing a client of hers, into the gift of learning that would bring results and success in a much bigger project later. Another client feared losing his job – the gift and opportunity of this worst outcome was the fuel to finally follow his true passion and be much happier in the long run. This helped them focus on the task at hand, worry less and succeed more easily.
Paradoxically, you’re more likely to prevent these ‘bad’ outcomes if you don’t worry about them so much as you’d be less likely to get derailed by overreacting and stressing out every time a little glitch happens. Your clear and centred mind is more creative and resourceful in responding to the glitches and hiccups along the way, helping you to recover faster.
Mastering this takes some practice.
If you’re ready to change the way you respond to stress and other negative emotions which rob you of success and happiness – consider joining my six-week Mental Fitness programme. Get in touch to find out more and sign up to my monthly newsletter, Insight 4 Impact for a 30% discount on the 2nd cohort (Cohort 1 now full!)
Mehalah Beckett is a consultant, coach and trusted advisor passionate about people, the planet and empowering others to inspire positive change. She coaches purpose-driven leaders to impossible goals, hosts Masterminds for hungry entrepreneurs and guides businesses through B-Corp. What can I help you achieve in 2021?