How do you manage the stress of being the best? If you’re really focused on never putting a foot wrong it can be overwhelming and exhausting, not just for you but for all concerned. You may even be aware of people who check their work so often that they effectively become word-blind and would find it hard to tell if there was an error! If you’re at that stage in your pursuit of being the best you can lose the ability to critically review your work.
Whilst caring enough to be good, making an effort to improve and aiming to produce an exceptional piece of work all have an important role it’s also important not to subject ourselves to constant overbearing scrutiny and pressure. It’s stressful to be subjected to other people snapping at our heels, waiting for us to fail or cave under the unremitting pressure and criticism. They’re impatiently biding their time so that they can replace us and step into our role.
Let’s consider some ways to manage the stress of being the best.
– If we work in a highly competitive environment we may feel stressed and living under constant ‘supervision’. The problem with this scenario is that stress generates more stress and becomes debilitating over time. We may find our clear thinking, powers of concentration and focus are all affected, as well as our health and wellbeing, ability to sleep and enjoyment of a good-humoured approach to life. Being firm about breaks and time out is important, as is trying to remove yourself from negative people and situations as often as possible.
– Some responsibilities are important and matter more than others. Yes a client, customer or friend deserve to have their requests treated with due deference and respect but some things are urgent whilst others are less so. Whilst we shouldn’t agree to help or undertake something we can’t fully commit to, equally there are times when enough is enough. Not every piece of work requires being worked on throughout the night or being double, triple or quadruple checked! However, it may be a useful strategy to have someone look over any work that you’re apprehensive about. A trusted third-party can often provide valuable reassurance.
– There’s no need to be an expert in every area. There will be times when our skills are not up to a particular request. There may be areas which we don’t fully understand or are not trained in. Accept and admit this rather than try to muddle through. Offer to source someone who’s competent in that field and forge a connection with them; it could even lead to you forming an alliance or partnership, on occasion resulting in a lucrative new string to both your bows.
– How do you feel if someone says that they can’t do something? So long as it’s done in the right way, not too often or after they’ve made a hash of an important piece of urgent work I’m sure you appreciated their honesty and were understanding. It helps if you’re offered alternative solutions, perhaps a contact they have or a working relationship with someone in that field who could step in and fill the breach. Doing that could result in a win/win for all concerned. Reflect on what worked for you and determine to adopt that approach.
– Aiming to constantly be the best can require sacrifices to be made, and it’s often our personal life which takes the strain as it’s the path of least resistance. We may find ourselves cancelling or missing out on precious moments with our children, us time with our partner or social occasions with family or friends. Deciding to side-line those times means that not only do we miss out on personal rest and relaxation, but we also risk damaging or alienating those relationships through neglect. When people are regularly dropped they will start to cope without you, but also get the message that you care more about work than you do about them.
– Manage the stress of being the best by focusing on developing your brand and letting it work for you. Becoming the ‘go to’ guy in a particular niche can be achieved by giving demonstrations, free samples, talks, workshops, writing articles and blogs, maintaining a high-profile. Turning up consistently, whether it be at network meetings, online or in the media can be managed to suit your lifestyle, so easing the stress. Let potential customers become so familiar with your name that you automatically spring to mind whenever your area of expertise is being considered.
– Let others sing your praises. Rather than hassle people for endorsements, step back and let your good work speak for itself. When other people become your ambassadors they recommend you with confidence, pleased that they know someone who’s good. Equally, be keen to recommend people you know, like and trust. Oil the wheels of your relationships and then the stress to be the best will subside as you become quietly confident in your field.
Let others contribute and be part of your team. They may not work in the same way as you but you’ll get more enthusiasm, commitment and potentially great new ideas from them as a consequence.
There are many ways to manage the stress of being the best. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of you doing a great job!