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Stress less, score more

by Al Wahnon
We are living in trying times. For many people, it’s not just the depressed economy, the housing market, widespread unemployment and other dismal ingredients of a faltering marketplace, it’s their personal life that has them singing the blues. Mounting stress has buckled their spirit, long hours, career insecurity and the seemingly endless day-to-day grind can tax the endurance and resilience of any employee. Misery is corrosive and it will crush your ambition, hopes and dreams…if you allow it. But, you can resist the onslaught of despair and thrive rather than merely survive. You can banish burnout with a heavy dose of enthusiasm, a carload of confidence and a peck of perseverance.
Together with those components are three amendments to your behavior that will help extricate you from the bonds of mediocrity, complacency and indifference: Let go, say no and lay low. Each premise is uncomplicated and easily adapted, and once learned drives away worries, restores order and awakens initiative.
Learn how to let go. There are several effective strategies designed to reduce stress while increasing productivity. The more in control you are, the more focused are your efforts and the greater is your contribution to your job. Experts believe in your course of action, there are two elements among the most important that are essential to the success of the plan—prioritization and delegation. Judge assignments carefully; consider time sensitivity and value to the company, and then allocate the various tasks to capable colleagues. There might be occasions when you will need to devote time to teaching others how to properly perform certain routine chores. These teaching/learning sessions can be rewarding undertakings and will eventually be beneficial to the company—and to you personally.
Learn how to say no. Shakespeare said, “There is nothing so common as the desire to be remarkable.” Say yes to everything and you will be the company patsy. You will not ingratiate yourself with your superiors as much as you will mark yourself as the employee management can count on and count out, if there’s a thinning of the herd. You are more valuable to the company if your talents are specific and measurable. You are less of an asset when your ability is diffused among menial jobs that gain gratitude but not stature. The sycophant can’t say no and becomes valuable to the manager who can. Your role must be clearly defined and your job description must be explicit so you are not expected to take on additional responsibility that might allow your day-to-day duties to languish. It was First Lady Nancy Reagan who launched a national campaign with the slogan “Just say no.” Heed her advice. And that’s easy to do when you have someone nearby who thrives on saying yes.
Learn how to lay low. You must be careful in the office or in the store and cultivate only savory people. Develop a penchant for detecting troublemakers on the staff. Those ne’er-do-well employees usually raise indolence to an art form and seek, or scheme, to do as little work as possible. They are so skillful at appearing unskilled that they caused the advent of the Peter Principle and, like a virus, they occasionally slip through the safety net and become the head of a company, like BP or Enron. Associate with the more reputable people in your firm, colleagues who are moving up and with whom you can share skills and knowledge. You will find positive business relationships are less stressful and more satisfying. So, to slip away from the pressure, learn how to let go, say no and lay low.