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Out of Our Minds
Friday, July 30, 2004 12:49 PM
Stress and a clean shirt
Anita Sharpe on Life

I had coffee this morning with one of my favorite businesspeople, Mark Kaiser, who has run companies ranging from $40 million to $1 billion and now works as an adviser to CEOs around the country. We got off on the topic of managing stress.

'During my most intensely stressful periods,' Mark says, 'I'll take 30 minutes and run an errand. I might just go to the dry cleaners. This drives some people crazy -- they can't understand why I'd run an errand in the middle of a crisis. I do it partly because it helps me put my world back in order and partly because it gives me tangible results in a very short period of time. But the real payoff is it gives me a few minutes in another environment to think about a problem differently.'

I loved hearing this from one of the most talented problem solvers I know, because I practice a variation of it myself.

I try to build thinking time into every day, but I always add 20 or 30 extra minutes when I have the least amount of time to spare -- a practice that does indeed drive certain personality types crazy. Much to the shock and dismay of some editors, I'd go out for a walk when I was on the worst kind of deadline pressure at the Wall Street Journal. Worked then; works now.\n


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Genevieve - 8/2/2004 4:29:41 AM
Understood, thanks. I agree with you about the gears 100%.
Avi Solomon - 8/1/2004 6:15:46 PM
Genevieve, what matters with stress is context, context, context. Stress can cause harm-bodily, emotional & intellectual burnout but as long as you have a viable context to frame it in you can actually use it to your own benefit.
I believe that true individuality (for example the ablility to take a calm walk while facing a stressful deadline) can only arise out of a grounded, empathic connection with others(people you trust enough to confide in on a regular basis)
Part of the wisdom of dealing with stress means knowing when to switch gears between body, emotions and thought!
Genevieve - 7/31/2004 11:28:06 PM
Avi, do you mean that the isolation imposed by creative types is am imposition on other workers? as I don't believe it's fair to over -idealise a creative person into some kind of hold-all for the problems of others.

If people know you will deliver on time, then the stress you create in the process is something they have to make a decision about: are they managing your work or simply venting their feelings of insecurity in the face of the sometimes inscrutable workings of creativity?
Avi Solomon - 7/31/2004 4:12:56 PM
'Probably the greatest coping outlet there is consists of having someone's shoulder to cry on. For social primates such as us, isolation is an aching stressor and a major risk factor for our health'
-Robert Sapolsky


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