Stress is a much used but little understood word.
In fact, when used in the context of it being what executives suffer too much of, it is a misnomer; and actually an erroneous concept.
“Stress” is the word typically used to label the circumstance where an individual is suffering from anxiety or other unwanted emotion as a consequence of threats to his or her well-being or survival. The person is said to be “suffering from stress” — but as you will see, it is an erroneous concept.
It is easy to observe that one man’s stressful circumstance is another man’s delight. Take the example of extreme sports: surfing the really big waves, climbing ultra-high sheer rock faces, extreme skiing; these are the epitome of thrill and excitement to some, but freeze others in terror. In circumstances of real threat to life such as in battle or civilian mishap, some remain calm and purposeful while others “lose it,” suffer battle fatigue, or otherwise stress-out. Some folk love audiences; others freak-out at having to address one.
Thus we see it is not the circumstance of a threat to one’s well-being or survival that causes “stress,” but some other agency. It doesn’t matter that the bullets are flying in the heat of battle, or that you are trapped on a two thousand-foot sheer rock face in a sudden storm. These are merely dangerous circumstances, not necessarily stressful.
The factor that changes a dangerous situation into a stressful situation is not the threat to your well-being, but the notion that a bullet has your name on it; or your thought that the sudden freeze will prevent you from getting down off the mountain; or your thought that you will screw-up in front of that audience.
Among sentient beings, it is not the force against you that is stressful, but your own consideration that the threat will defeat you; that you will or may well lose out in this set of circumstances.
It is the even brief consideration that the feared consequence will become reality that induces the condition called stress; the consideration that you cannot, or might not be able to, prevent an unwanted condition from occurring.
This is the factor that inflicts the “stress” — your own considerations of loss, failure, or fear of unwanted events; not the mere fact or threat of a potential circumstance.
People who have the personal certainty they possess the competence level necessary to meet and successfully deal with any challenge or threat to them accomplishing their objectives do not suffer stress. Life is a rather joyous adventure that sometimes issues a challenge. You see this among individuals who are masters of their chosen endeavor, whether they be extreme athletes, students facing exams, or executives. Knowing you can master the situation puts you above stress.
At Ability Consultants, Inc., we have processes you can apply to raise your competence level in any area of activity so you are above the level of stress; and we show you how to proof yourself against it.