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Is Stress the problem, or the solution?

Business Perspective Blog Posts

One of the things that we observe is companies that attempt to remove stressful environments from the workplace - that corporate performance degrades along with it. By doing that, they inadvertently remove the impetus to perform. You should not attempt to eliminate stressful environments, you should remove anxiety - concern with potential inability to succeed.

The military consistently uses stress to drive performance. Their operational environment - like most businesses - is not under their control. Troops that are unable to perform their function, are dangerous; not only to themselves, but to the people that depend upon them.  They would suffer from high degrees of anxiety - what we have misnamed stress. To counter this, the military trains, trains, and trains more, resulting in no less stressful situations, but one with far less anxiety over failure.

Most stressful situations should NOT be eliminated - even if they could be. Let me give you an example......

Public speaking - a high stress situation if there ever was one. The solution to the resultant anxiety over public speaking is most often found with speaker expertise in the subject area. People that are very, very familiar with the topic being presented - familiar enough that no audience onslaught could not be countered - are typically not anxious at all. The stressful situation still exists - nothing happened to change that - but the anxiety over the situation is eliminated, and performance is superb.

Translate that parallel into other work situations. 

Removing stressful situations is not the answer - preparing workers to deliver is.

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-  Machiavelli