I remember when the desktop revolution started. I was there on the wave with many others. And do you remember the mantra? With the personal computer you can get your work done faster and then have more time for play and relaxing. – NOT! – Just the opposite. The business work quota skyrocketed. Corporate business seemed to respond with, “since you can now get your work done faster (hear the dump truck backing up?), you can obviously handle more work.” And that, by-and-large, has also been the mindset of technology providers–Faster…More…Faster…More…. If you’re in the tech field, you experience this phenomena almost every day.
Then along came FedEx to fan the flames of this business mindset. Get it there faster. From their clunky beginnings, mobile phones have added to the stressful frenzy. And, mobile and wireless technologies continue to grow at an unprecedent rate. Do you sometimes feel chained to your Blackberry?
Ulcer-Giver or Ulcer-Getter
So what happened to the promise of more time to play, relax, and innovate? Reading this post you might say, “I do play and relax”. Are you a High-D personality type? If you are, read on. If you’re not, then this has already struck a cord with you.
There is a direct corellation to stress and productivity. A little stress can be motivating. Constant stress can be destructive. This hit home the first time I saw a commercial on national television for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). IBS has become so common place that there are infomercials about it. Talk to doctors and anyone who suffers from it and the major contributing factor is stress. External stress and internal stress. Productivity crawls and/or stalls under the stress placed upon us or that we place upon ourselves.
The lack of productivity is obvious. Many in our work force are medicated. I was shocked to hear of one small organization (200+ employees) where over 50% of the staff was on medication for mood or physical stress related issues.
Principle in Practice
Not only is this common place in the market, but it is affecting the younger generation as well. Take the principle of leadership and it’s affect on corporate culture. You can often tell when you walk into a business if the employees are pressured or enjoying their working environment. This relates directly to the leadership of that enterprise. On a macro-scale you see the same principle at work in countries and on a micro-scale you see this principle at work in families. Our kids see us running around and stressed out and, guess what? They’re running around and getting stressed out too. IBS, IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, and others are all related to stress and our kids are starting to suffer from it as well.
What’s the Answer?
We need to start asking some tough questions. Start in the home first:
- Do I always have to be busy?
- Do I really need to pack my schedule/my kid’s schedule so full?
- Do I have any room for margin in my life?
- Do I see stress affecting my relationships with my spouse and my children?
- Do I choose to allow little things to stress me out?
- What am I going to do about it?
Then start asking questions at work:
- What is really driving this deadline?
- Do I really need to work over 50 hours a week?
- Do I intentionally create down-time?
- Do I always have to say “yes”?
- What am I going to do about it?
- Have I ever thought of making a “Not-To-Do” list?
In the long-term, our ability to experience peace and to deal with stress in a healthy manner will only come about through an internal transformation. This may not be new information–certainly not anything to “stop the presses” about, but it is essential and, in some instances, life saving. Now that’s worth stopping the stresses.
*NOTE: Also see my post — For Grown Ups Too, Learning Must Be Fun.