Blog - Leadership and personal development articles

How Stress & Comfort Play Together and why YOU should care!

An odd pairing, but stress and comfort work together on a daily basis and if you are a leader of a team looking to get results its imperative you know how they play and what you can do about it.  If you don’t have the official “leader” business card but just want the best for your life, this is still very much for you. Read on!

Here’s how the game works:

1. Every human being experiences stress.

2. Every human needs and strongly desires comfort.

3. When we are stressed, we look for comfort to relieve the stress.

The most common example is the proven fact that when many people get stressed they tend to reach for comfort foods high in fat and sugar.  It feels good at the time but the medium term/long term consequences of worsening health aren’t good.

Having  spent 20 years in industry before launching my speaking/coaching career here is an “at work” example with similar disastrous results:

1. When workers are stressed, they tend to do what they like to do instead of what they should do towards meeting the goal ahead of them.  For new leaders, it means increased focus on doing what they were so good at doing and got them promoted to leader.  The feel good of the moment blinds leaders to this fact: That’s not our job any more!  In doing what we were good at doing we’re likely telling the person whose job it currently is that we don’t trust them or value them.  The medium / long term  consequences  for team motivation and performance aren’t great.

Whether you are a leader or a team player,  it is dangerous to manage your daily activities by what you ‘think and feel’.  It will allow stress to easily derail you off the course to success.


What to do?

1. Talk about it.

If you are a leader you should have this conversation with every player on your team acknowledging that we ALL are in danger of doing it:  Ask them to get some feedback from others as to how they see them reacting to stress.  What are their most common “feel good” activities that take them off priority in their role and hurt their results?  Once you’ve talked  to each team member about themselves, go to your boss and have the same conversation about yourself!

2. Be Accountable to what you CAN do

Don’t hammer people for bad habits.  As i already said, we are all susceptible.  Congratulate them on acknowledging an area of weakness. Talk about what they can do instead in those situations and create an environment where they are accountable  to someone on a regular basis up front towards replacing the bad behaviour with the good.   When people know WHAT to do and HAVE to do it, you’ll see results a large majority of the time. Don’t forget to celebrate all the steps forward they take!

Comfort sounds like such a good thing and in many ways it is,  but we each need to be aware of its downsides that can hurt our growth and success.  Specifically when the pull to comfort can pull us to towards activities that don’t help us reach goals and the consequences of those bad habits can be destructive in our lives.

Meeting stress head on with adherence to a purposeful and productive plan is in my experience one of the main traits of the successful people I admire.  Comfort is awesome when simply an intentional and planned reward for achieving something through the stress it took to do it.

Here’s to your success!


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