Keeping your Cool

Keeping your Cool

The world has gotten busier and all of that busy-ness adds pressure to our daily lives. Technology hasn’t helped any. The average knowledge worker in the U.S. is interrupted every 11 minutes by some form of communication: Email, text messages, phone calls.

Add to that the fact that leaders and potential leaders are the ones who tend to run toward trouble and chaos in the organization, thinking that they can fix it. Though they are most often right about this assessment, the pressure to prove it adds to an already pressure-packed life.

Even with all of this, it’s possible to keep your cool even when others are losing theirs. But if you are going to accomplish that you’re going to have to be intentional.

Here are five ways that have worked for me:

Temper your expectations of yourself.

As important as it is to understand how others tick, it’s just as important to understand how you tick. You must be patient with yourself. Don’t burden yourself with perfectionist demands. It will make you miserable, and you can never be a winner that way. Remember, “Done is better than perfect.”

Beware of over-scheduling.

Take a look at your calendar. If you are like most, your days are bulging with commitments. Rethink that habit. If we are to work efficiently and effectively, we need space on our calendars to relax, reflect, and prepare—and to allow for the unpredictable.

Focus on the present.

Be careful not to scatter your attention, your energy, and your power. Work when you’re working. Relax when you’re relaxing. Focus on what you’re doing this very day, this very hour. Multitasking is so overrated!

Dwell in your peaceful place.

Find a place that brings you extreme peace. Many of my friends, as I do, love the beach and the lapping of waves, and they visit often to feed their soul and give themselves peace.

Fortunately, my peaceful place is my bedroom. I actually do a lot of my writing in the early mornings, before sunrise, in my “French-styled” bedroom. There, I am surrounded by my favorite things: ceiling-to-floor cream drapes, an antique mirror and chest, family keepsakes, my favorite art, a cushy white chair and ottoman. My bedroom provides peace, serenity, and tranquility, allowing me to do my best writing.

Assume Best Intentions (From my friend, Wil Carruthers.)

I was a buyer at Family Dollar for three years and I learned a lot while I was there. The piece of advice I’ve held on to the most was given early on to me by the SVP of Merchandising Support, Jeff Thomas.  A personable leader with years of experience on the operations side of retail, he gave this advice at the end of every town hall he led for our team, as a part of “Jeff’s Rules.”  That advice was, “Assume Best Intentions.”  It has helped me keep grounded in how I interpret things, both in professional situations and personal ones too.  Whether in the workplace among coworkers, or at home with friends and family, there are so many situations that pose a risk or unnecessary escalation due to misinterpretation.”

I hope all of this will bring you peace. That’s a powerful place to be. Peaceful people are centered and they are unflappable. They make really good decisions. They have long-term relationships. They are careful about how they respond, and because they are calm, they never feel the need to respond without thinking it through or maybe even sleeping on it. They “keep their heads when those about them are losing theirs.” They are successful in their careers and in life.

I wish the same for you. Contributor

It is a true privilege to be a columnist at Forbes. Forbes is a community of talented people with deep knowledge in their genre.

Managing your fear is essential for becoming a leader. Conquering your fear is even better.