Friday, January 09, 2009

Stress Reduction and the Lifeboat

You're trapped in a lifeboat with an obnoxious project.

As you tend to other survival tasks, the project's hungry eyes never give you a moment's rest. You're sure that if your guard is relaxed for a second, the project will consume your time and your spirit, bones and all.

Unless you are chained to the project, throw it overboard.

Be merciless. Watch the project splash about as the sharks close in. Hit it a few times with an oar just to show you're serious.

Now lean back in the boat and watch the clouds for a few minutes. Let your mind float above so it's looking down at you. What is that on your face? A smile.

How can you advise that? Aren't there projects you cannot escape?

Yes, and yet on so many occasions, we increase our stress with unnecessary complications. We are the ones who overpromise, who impose the tight deadlines, and who insist on making rocky road when all the client wants is vanilla. Why does that project look so intimidating? Because we have been feeding it with our complications. As time passed and stress increased, we fed it with our fears.

But what do you do if a project cannot be thrown overboard?

The answer is obvious. You chop it into manageable pieces. You stop making yourself out to be some Super Hero who can fly faster than a speeding deadline. As a reminder, print out this observation from Pablo Picasso and keep it nearby:

You must always work not just within but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery and you create a feeling of strength in reserve.

1 comment:

Eclecticity said...

Book it Mike-O