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Traffic, the Workplace, and Resiliency

Here’s the deal with the workplace: it’s challenging, and it’s not getting any easier. There are more challenges and there is more pressure than ever before. The cliché “do more with less” is now a staple in our workplace vernacular. Our days are filled with impossible deadlines, endless projects, “firefighting,” and juggling multiple, ever-changing priorities.

To get through these challenges, we tell ourselves things like:

 “As soon as this project is completed, things will get back to normal…”
“Once the new person is trained, I won’t have to work on these long hours…”
“As soon as I meet this deadline, I can relax…”
“If only traffic wasn’t so slow, I could get to the office on time…”

The reality is that once you complete a project, there will be three new projects that require your attention. As soon as one deadline is complete, there are more to take its place.  And, for most of us, annoyances like traffic are a daily occurrence. These challenges are not going to slow down.

So how do you perform at your best in spite of all this? You must strengthen your resiliency muscle.

Imagine you are running late on your way to the office because you are stuck in traffic. You do the speed up/slam on brakes routine to try to get ahead. You tailgate the car in front of you. You weave in and out of the lanes to get into the fastest moving one. You feel frustrated and annoyed that everyone else is going so slowly. “If only these people would hurry up, I could get to the office on time.” Finally, you arrive at the office flustered, grumpy, and 15 minutes late. “Sorry I’m late,” you grumble as you walk in, “traffic was horrible.”

So, you’ve spent a chunk of your valuable time stressing about something that you have no control over (traffic) and blaming everyone else for your tardiness. The time that could have been spent mentally preparing for your day was wasted cursing the cars in front of you. You are emotionally spun up over something you could not change, and that energy follows you into the office and sets the tone for your work day.

Here’s what the same situation looks like when you’re flexing your resiliency muscle. You realize you’re running a few minutes late. You text your manager to let her know. On the way to the office you are clear headed and use the opportunity to prepare for the day. You arrive at the office a few minutes late and apologize for the tardiness. You are fully prepared and ready for the day and what it will bring.

Think of your challenges as opportunities; opportunities to strengthen your resiliency and better prepare yourself for the next time an unexpected project pops up or the co-worker who was supposed to help you on that proposal calls in sick. The next time a challenging situation arises, big or small, think about these guidelines for building resiliency:

What is my role in this?
How am I impacting the situation? Am I looking at someone else as the problem or is the problem me? In the traffic example, the driver placed blame on the other drivers. However, the more likely issue is that he didn’t allow himself enough time to get to his destination.

What’s my story?
What is the story I’m telling myself? In the example, the story was “These people are so slow! They’re messing with my schedule! If they would just hurry up I could get there on time!” As a result, his frustration grew. When feeling frustrated, tell yourself, “practice patience.” This will quiet the story and keep emotions neutral.

How flexible am I?
In this case, the driver was determined to get to the meeting on time, regardless of traffic. He did not consider other options like letting his colleague know he was going to be late. This rigidity creates unnecessary stress and a heightened state of emotion. The ability to go-with-the-flow increases your resilience and alleviates unnecessary frustration.

Want to learn more about resiliency in leadership? Give us a call at (888) 529-0240 or send us an email at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you!

Brandy Ferrer  is the President and CEO of Pathfinder Strategies, and is skilled at harnessing the power of the people to achieve organizational success. Her diverse experiences and unique skill set help organizations navigate challenges, shape culture, attract and retain talent, and develop tomorrow’s leaders. She has worked in the professional development space for 14 years. During that time, she has created national training programs, leadership programs, management coaching, team alignment projects, career ladders, and strategic plans. She is a certified practitioner of Emotional Intelligence EQi-2.0 through Multi-health systems, a certified consultant and coach of Behaviors & Driving Forces through Target Training International, and one of the only certified BioCode System™ practitioners in the country. She holds certificates in Adult Learning and a certificate from the Association of Talent Development for Managing the Learning Function.

Brandy proudly serves as a board member for Friends of Pima Animal Care Center and Animal Welfare of Southern Arizona. She also serves on the board of the Better Bureau of Southern Arizona and is a graduate of Greater Tucson Leadership.

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1 Comments

  1. Tiffany Gorrell

    Jan. 7, 2020

    Such a good reminder that it doesn't make sense to fret over things beyond our control.

    Reply

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