Stress Tests

When you get past the speed limit age-wise (that would be 55 in many states), your doctor wants you to have all kinds of tests as “baselines” so when you start to complain about stuff she can see what’s changed. I was told to go get a stress test even though I tried to explain that I’d been getting them regularly for the last 30 years or more. Let’s see if you buy the explanation because she didn’t!

Let’s start with this:  you have 30 minutes before you deliver an annual budget presentation in which you’re asking for millions of dollars in expenses to seed a few speculative ventures when in walks one of your top performers and quits.

Or this:  you arrive at an airport for your flight and you realize you have no wallet.  All the later planes are full (not to mention the hundreds of dollars in fees you’re going to incur) and the next available flight is in two days – after your meeting.

Or this:  you negotiate for weeks with an agency for a multimillion dollar marketing campaign involving a dozen moving pieces.  You’ve begged internally to have things done that have never been done before and succeeded.  You shake hands on the deal only to find out that the agency hadn’t mentioned any of this to the client who hates it and turns it down flat.

I can go on for hours.  Every one of those things has happened to me and I’m sure you’ve had similar things happen to you.  They’re stressful – way more stressful (and longer lasting) than anything a little time on a treadmill will do.  These eat at you – what could I have done differently?  Where did things go off track?  As an aside, there are just as many – albeit very different – stress tests outside of the corporate world as many of my friends can tell you.

Here’s the thing – the daily stress tests business hands us are just that – tests.  They’re kind of the emotional toll booths on the road of business life and when the tolls get too heavy maybe it’s time to find another route.

I always thought that taking a step back – we could be digging ditches – and reestablishing some perspective went a long way towards passing those tests.  Tell me how you deal with them.  I’m all ears!

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

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