Keep Calm and …

Keep Calm and …

Category : PROspective

The two most important things I learned as an undergraduate were: (a) I can do a lot in 24 hours, far more than I had realized and far more than many people ever realize, and (b) I can only do a lot in 24 hours if I keep calm while doing it. The ability to work well under pressure is critical to career success, and can be learned. Today’s PROspective article provides ten concrete suggestions for how to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure, which has a direct link to your wellbeing and to the quality of your performance.

There are a few aspects of this reading that resonate most strongly with me. First is the idea that some stress is normative. As the article states: “Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state.” Accepting the feelings that come with intermittent moderate stress as motivational is a first step in turning it to your advantage.

Second, it is important to develop a reliable and healthy coping strategy that you can turn to when stress rises. Knowing that you have a solution provides relief from the aspects of stress that might prevent you from performing, and allows you to channel the stress towards achievement.

For me, the advice to disconnect rings true. I do not work well in the evening, so very seldom even try. I look forward to that time at home with my family, or to play guitar, or to read and watch TV (music documentaries are my latest guilty pleasure). I always have work I could be doing; not doing it reminds me that I am in control, and feeling in control is an important defense against stress.

Learning to use stress to your advantage is healthy and will give you a competitive edge. Like many career skills, it requires introspection and a commitment to being intentional about the goal. This week’s reading will give you some foundational knowledge as a place to start.

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