We all worry at times, and leaders are no exception. We don't think of it as something we need to manage. Most of us get used to living with it, and some leaders even believe it to be motivational -- as in, "My worries keep me on my toes."
Worrying never made anything better, faster, or in a more effective way. It drags us down more than it motivates us to our best. In fact, your achievements are in spite of—not because of—the stress of your worries.
When you notice yourself worrying, call it for what it is: unhelpful, self-inflicted negativity. Then let it go. After all, it can’t keep you down when you catch yourself in the act and promptly dismiss it.
This simple “worry-management” practice will improve your outlook, and help you be a happier, more effective leader.
- Clear the worry decks: Make a list of your current worries; ones that either nag you, pop up at times, or even impinge on your sense of peace.
- For each item on the list, jot down a sentence or two about the absolute “worst case”—what could happen if your fears are fully realized, AND a “realistic case”—what’s reasonably likely to happen, given the way things are going.
- Then turn your unproductive worry into problem-solving concern: imagine the “realistic case” yielding a positive outcome. What do you need to start, stop, change, or continue doing, and how should you amend your thinking, to give that outcome your full support?
- Once these plans are in place, the worries may continue to pop up to haunt you at times. Acknowledge and dismiss them in real time—give them the rest of the day off.