By Robin Sharma
We live in a high-pressure world. Your customers demand more from you than ever before, your boss expects greater results in less time, and by the time you have mastered one technology, it's often obsolete. The constant change in the marketplace and in society is so vast it makes your head spin. More new information was produced in the past 30 years than in the entire 5000 year period from 3000 BC to 1965. The effect of these new challenges has been to create an invisible epidemic, one that has the potential to rob you of your productivity, creativity and effectiveness like no other. The name of this culprit? Stress.
Here are seven of the stress mastery lessons I teach sales professionals in my seminars for mastering stress and staying focused in these turbulent times:
1. Reframe the Negative as Positive.
Stress is essentially a matter of perception. While giving a presentation to a group of 100 prospects might strike fear in the heart of one sales professional, it will be viewed as a superb business opportunity to another. Stress management is all about thought management and the more effectively you can reframe seemingly negative events as positive circumstances, the more inspired, productive and energetic you will remain. When a stressor appears, ask yourself: "is there a better way of interpreting this situation?" or "will this really matter 3 years from now?" Remember, all setbacks offer growth lessons and all failure is essential to success.
2. Continuously Grow.
The best way to manage change is to keep on growing. Ironically, by clinging to old pathways of thought and action in the hope of finding a little security in these change-crazed times, you are actually putting yourself in the most insecure position possible. The pace of change in our world will only increase as we advance into the new millennium so accept and embrace it. Make the decision to become a change master and begin to see yourself as a lifelong student. Read for 30 minutes a day, go to training seminars and listen to educational and motivational audiocassettes in your car. By expanding your own professional knowledge base you will not only thrive on the change that you will inevitably face, you will be in a position to add greater value to your organization.
3. Focus on the Worthy.
With all the demands on your time, you simply cannot do everything. As I teach sales professionals in my time management seminars, "The person who tries to do everything ultimately achieves nothing." Or as Confucius noted so many years ago: "The man who chases two rabbits catches neither." Peak performers have a clear sense of the activities that are worthy of their time and those that contribute little to their professional and personal missions. They then have the self-discipline to focus only on their best activities, the ones that create the results they desire. Focusing on the worthy is the golden key to time management and life fulfillment. As management guru Peter Drucker observed: "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."
4. Plan Your Time.
If you don't make the time to schedule your priorities in your daily planner, someone else's priorities will get scheduled into your daily planner. All peak performing men and women understand that time is their most precious resource and guard it wisely. Set aside 30 minutes every Sunday night for your weekly planning session and ask yourself this very powerful question: "What goals do I need to accomplish over the next seven days for me to feel this week was a success?" Note these small but essential goals down and schedule a time for their achievement into your daily organizer. Remember, the days slip into weeks and the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years. If you don't act on life, life will act on you. Get control of your time and make your weeks count.
5. Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Tear yourself away from the outdated mindset that says "to be more productive, you must work harder." In these pressure filled times, that's a recipe for disaster. Adopt a new, more enlightened way to manage yourself and understand that the key to increased effectiveness is to work smarter. Stop focusing on the time spent behind your office desk and, instead, begin concentrating on getting results.
6. Manage Your Environment.
We live in an increasingly negative world. Massive corporate downsizing, ever-increasing levels of competition and constant access to mind-numbing news stories are only a few of the influences that can adversely affect our attitudes and thought-processes if left unchecked over time. To master stress and maintain high levels of enthusiasm, meticulously guard they information you expose yourself to. Ruthlessly assess the nature of your environment to ensure that you are surrounding yourself with the best influences available. Associate with positive people. Make your office an oasis of excellence and inspiration. Make your car a mobile learning center through tapes and energizing messages. Avoid anything that detracts from the clear, focused mindset you know will lead you to success. As Gandhi said: "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."
7. Make Time for Yourself.
Ultimately, the best way to manage stress effectively is to manage yourself effectively. Have the wisdom to understand that success on the outside truly begins within. Carve out time every week to commune with nature or listen to beautiful music or get a relaxing massage. Discover the renewing power of visualization and meditation and ensure that you find a few minutes during your busy week to enjoy a little silence. Time invested in revitalizing your self is never a waste of time. Rather, it is an excellent use of your time as it makes every remaining hour of your week far more productive and dynamic. Begin to manage yourself better. Get to know yourself and craft a serious action plan for personal development. You will quickly meet with higher levels of success and feel far less stress. As Churchill said: "The price of greatness is responsibility."