Thursday, January 22, 2009

Worry is the Misuse of Imagination

I think the Swedish proverb is true that worry gives a small thing a big shadow. If you caught the Fox 4 Good Day program last week you saw me say, "Worry is the misuse of imagination." Click below to see my interview on FOX.

Most anxiety is obsessive and repetitive. Telling someone not to worry further encourages that person to keep the worry to him or herself. It's important to learn how to extinguish the anxiety so daily satisfaction can be increased.

Use these Smart Moves to minimize chronic worry:

  • Know the difference between good and bad worry. If you live in a high crime area it's good to worry about being out alone at night. Living in fear that someone with a rare disease will breathe or cough in your face is unrealistic worry.
  • Set up a "scheduled worry" period. Instead of giving your worries full attention whenever they hit your mind, set up a 15-20 minute period where you can give your worries full attention. Then, defer worrying until the scheduled times.
  • Avoid what-iffing about situations. Stay in the here-and-now.
  • Is there evidence? Ask yourself: "Am I trying to control things out of my control?" "On my deathbed will I be glad I worried about this?" "Will this matter to me next year, next month or next week?"
  • Use worry to your advantage. If you've been goofing off and not preparing well for an upcoming project then worry can help you spring into action. But don't let worry be a substitute for taking action.
  • Seek treatment from a professional. Treatment doesn't always mean medication is necessary. If there are significant physiological symptoms and impairment in daily functioning, medication prescribed by a physician with specialized knowledge in the treatment of anxiety can give greater relief quicker than when medication is not used. More importantly, medication can provide the kind of relief and stabilize the anxiety so other forms of treatment are effective long-term. Click here to read my blog posting on how to find a good psychologist or psychiatrist.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Being a Forever Student

I am in the airport waiting to fly back to Dallas this morning after presenting to the presidents of a Texas bank. This is my second year presenting to this group and I enjoyed the challenge of a return engagement and the camaraderie of the group. I had a lot of time to get to know the presidents better and hear their stories of how they are helping their bank customers manage through this financial crisis. What a great perspective to listen to their strategies, their success stories and their hope for those they serve.

I presented the Smart Zone strategies to them this year with a focus on keeping your sanity. This is my version of balancing work and family life. The predominantly male group was so responsive to discussing openly what they see themselves and others doing when they are out of their Smart Zone and offering their unique strategies for helping their branches and their customers stay in their Smart Zone. More importantly, how they as leaders, will continue to work hard to stay focused on helping others manage through these tough economic times while managing their own professional and personal stress.

While I've got so much that I am taking away from my work this weekend, I want to share with you one of the conversations I had with one gentleman about my suggestion to be a "forever student". See, I believe that none of us knows it all and when we start thinking we can't learn anything new, we are on the road to worthlessness. Even during difficult times, we are a student learning what we are made of, what we don't know, and what we need to learn and do differently. Difficult times are an opportunity and failure can be feedback. One of the bank presidents talked with me after the presentation about how his grandfather had instilled the same value in him when he was young. At the time, he was too young to understand the value or truly what the whole I idea meant. As you gain more life experience, it is like life gives you a flip flop experience. Sometimes we can feel as if the older we get, the less we seem to know.

What an opportunity for all of us to be forever learners. I know the people I had the privilege of spending time with this weekend are in the Smart Zone.