The Power of Preparation & Flexibility in Banishing Stress

Recently, at an EQnomics Series “Pulling the Stress Plug” event I discovered at the last minute that the LCD projector’s cords were not in the bag. I realized one of my colleagues may have inadvertently put them in her/his laptop bag at their last presentation. While normally, I would double-check the cord was there, however, this time being in a hurry I neglected to do so assuming “It’s been there every time and so, of course, it’s in the bag now”. This minor omission of cords left me unable to do a major part of the visual presentation including the really coolHeartMath® bio-feedback computer demo. This was frustrating and no one at the venue had extra cords. What to do? First of all, a little background first. I have been speaking, training and presenting for over 15 years. I believe strongly in caring for my participants’ experience and their time by presenting high impact, fun, informative, practical and memorable presentations. I do this in part through meticulous and careful preparation. Thus, for every presentation I have contingency plans, built-in equipment/material redundancy, and an over-preparation mindset. For example, I bring extra extension cords, a power strip, black gaffers tape for taping down cords and loose table draping, my own folding fabric screen as some venues have projection screens that are too small for optimal visual impact, fresh dry-erase markers, and so on. I also prepare additional activities as back-ups so we can then draw on other approaches in case we discover that the feel and/or needs of the group have changed. Further, I balance this careful planning with being comfortable with presenting on the fly, and being flexible for whatever may arise for the inherent differences of each venue.

So, what to do? The solution was simple. The training that day was “Pulling the Stress Plug.” I figured, what a great opportunity to model the EQ skill of Stress Tolerance through the EQ skills of Flexibility and Problem Solving. So, while disappointed for a brief moment of not being able to offer the presentation as planned, the EQ skill of Flexibility allowed me to adjust to the situation. Flexibility reminded me that the way things are planned do not necessarily determine the way things actually are. As a result I was immediately able to re-write my presentation and approach in my mind and move forward with a great workshop without any perceived hitches. Preparedness (through content and experience to draw from) aids flexibility greatly.

The outcome? Rather than being stressed, I saw it as an opportunity to adjust, adapt and offer the participants other great approaches to manage their stress. The EQ skill of Flexibility helped me see solutions and opportunities to enjoy instead of just a problem to endure.

So, call me at 801.787.8014 and we’ll arrange a free and fun no-strings attached Training Demo on any of the great EQ Skills to help your team more effectively manage the stresses they experience.

“La La La and Smiling”

The other day I was preparing for the “Pulling the Stress Plug” workshopas a free “Thank you!” Training Demo for one of our long-term clients. Of the various stress mastery techniques and mindsets that we teach in this workshop, one of them involves a neuroscience bio-feedback technique called Quick Coherence as developed by HeartMath. You can read more about the three steps here, but in a nutshell, Quick Coherence is an unusually simple, highly effective, and rapid method for reducing stress, anxiety and improving performance. HeartMath describes it briefly as follows:

“Create a coherent state in about a minute with the simple, but powerful steps of the Quick Coherence® Technique. Using the power of your heart to balance thoughts and emotions, you can achieve energy, mental clarity and feel better fast anywhere. Use Quick Coherence especially when you begin feeling a draining emotion such as frustration, irritation, anxiety or anger. Find a feeling of ease and inner harmony that’s reflected in more balanced heart rhythms, facilitating brain function and more access to higher intelligence.”

emWave-smIn preparation for the workshop, I brought the various HeartMath emWave equipment home to test it over the weekend, thinking my family would find it interesting. Using both sophisticated technology and simple instructions my two youngest (Matthew, age 8, and Molly, age 10) quickly and easily kept achieving optimal coherence levels, as indicated by a green light on the emWave Personal Stress Reliever (PSR). Well, Matthew took to it right away and kept asking if he could use it over the weekend.

Matthew-09Monday, as I was heading out the door to work, Matthew exuberantly exclaimed as he held the green-lit emWave PSR aloft, “Hey Dad! All I’m doing is saying ‘La la la’ in my head and smiling!”. I laughed, hugged him and left. I thought that was all, however, for the rest of the day his words kept coming back to me: “All I’m doing is saying ‘La la la’ in my head and smiling.” There you had it: My 8-year-old son had mastered the Quick Coherence technique in only a few tries. Nothing fancy. Nothing complex. No muss. No fuss.

Some people, usually adults, worry that mastering stress is too complicatedand/or that it will involve too much time that they don’t have for mediation or yoga. Take it from a child, folks: Effective stress management isn’t in long-involved methods; It’s in the simple. “La la la” is a child’s version of a mantra—just something to fill the mind (i.e., the practice of mindfulness) with something else other than distraction and worry. The simple act of just physically smiling shifts our neurochemical state by releasing stress-relieving and pleasure-inducing endorphins and DHEA in the brain. Repeated simply over and over produces a coherent, stress-relieving state, quickly.

For years I have said in my stress management workshops that children are little Zen masters and that we would be wise to learn from them. My son proved it to me again. As Darth Vader said to Obi-Wan Kenobi, I can say of my son: “Now the student has become the master.”

An 8-year-old nailed it. Not only that, his example helped me nail it the rest of the day. In fact, it’s helping me right now. I feel fully coherent and peaceful as I’m typing this for my deadline. No stress. No muss. No fuss. I’m just, “La la la” and smiling. I feel just fine.

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Jonathan Sherman