Friday, October 15, 2010

Well - You Can't Control That!

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Well - you can’t control THAT!

It seems that whenever I am scheduled to facilitate a Stress Busters program or focusing on the Stress Management aspect of my work, that things crop up to test my own ability in the area of stress and anger resolution. The last time I ran a Stress Busters course, I had a lot of speaking engagements booked back-to-back. With my schedule in mind, I planned my print/ship schedule for recent book orders in advance. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed my ship time, and had to send materials out the next day. The items were picked up early in the a.m., so I expected all to go well. No worries - move on to something else... except - the next day, tracking showed that my boxes were stranded on a truck and would not make the delivery deadline. Instant stress.

Remember - stress is defined as a feeling that occurs when the current demands exceed the perceived resources available. So I started looking for resources in the hopes that my stress would be resolved along with the problem. I called my printer and arranged for them to do an emergency re-print of the materials. Then I hunted down another courier who claimed they could get my delivery in on time if I got it out before 5 p.m. OK - things were looking up. I got my reprints, ran across town to the courier and shipped it off. Then, I scooted back home again to deal with everything else that had been placed on the back burner while I managed this crisis.

I went off and facilitated my Stress Busters session and reminded myself that we can only deal with what we can control. Everything else is… well... a waste of time if we worry about it.
As it happens, when I checked the tracking number of my new shipment it turned out that an attempt had been made to deliver, but there was apparently no one there to sign for it - so they kept it, and would try again Monday. The problem is - they needed it NOW - Monday would be too late. That was the last straw.

So what are you gonna do? Absolutely nothing. I can't control the courier or what s/he does with my package. I can't control the recipient. I can't control what is happening on the other end where the package should be - but isn't. All I can control is this overwhelming urge to curl up in fetal position and cry.

Seriously - if this isn't a teachable moment, what is? If I can borrow from Oprah's favourite line, "What I know for sure" is that stuff happens. There is some stuff you can avoid or prevent, but sometimes despite your best efforts, things will just go horribly, horribly wrong. You can't explain it, and you can't control it. All you can do is control your own responses so that you can get to the best possible outcome.

Through this I have learned that trying to be accommodating on one end can cause huge inconveniences on another - and there must always be a balance between the two. I have learned that we must always factor in at least 20% more time than is ever needed to do ANYTHING - including delivering packages. I have learned that overnight delivery, can often mean 2-3 business days - thank you very much. And I have learned that I can never know enough about how to cope through crisis - because just when you think you've seen it all, God drops a new one in your lap.

Listen up… The last straw is falling. It may not have landed yet. In fact, you may not be feeling that stressed or overwhelmed at all right now. But life is just like that: just as we get used to living with a level of stress that is manageable, all of a sudden things can heat up without warning. The straw is falling. Somewhere, sometime, perhaps when you least expect it, it will land on you. Are you ready for it?

My new book, When the Last Straw Falls: 30 Ways to Keep Stress from Breaking Your Back, was written to equip you with everything you need to prevent the proverbial “last straw” from breaking you. It is available now from my website, Here are a few parting tips. When Stress Threatens to Overwhelm You:
• Breathe deeply – regulate your physical response
• Talk stressors through with others
• Check your attitudes & beliefs
• Laugh! It is the best medicine
• Change your perspectives
• Don’t allow the past to muddy the present

Lastly, when you are faced with circumstances that are completely beyond your power to change, shrug your shoulders, throw your hands up and say, “Well – You can’t control that!”
Written for The Anger Solutions Blog,

By Julie Christiansen, Author, International Speaker, Coach
President, Leverage U