Many executives live in periodic dread, fear, anxiety, and shame. Will I be able to hit my sales quota this quarter? Will I be able to score that next promotion? Will I choke during my upcoming presentation to our Board of Directors? We sometimes have self-doubt, and occasionally even doubt our capacity to cope effectively.
Looking for greener pastures, many executives have turned to Stoicism. Bill Clinton, the New England Patriots, J.K. Rowling, Tim Ferriss, Jack Dorsey, and many other prominent leaders have incorporated the ancient philosophy into their daily lives. The recent cultural resurgence of Stoicism is, no doubt, a reflection of its relevance to the real world and, in particular, the workplace.
Over the next three articles, I will focus on one important aspect of stoicism. See if you can practice one per week.
This article will focus on one important aspect of stoicism. Don’t panic, this week’s challenge doesn’t involve standing bare naked in front of a group of your colleagues. But it does get at the heart of stoicism and teach you to embrace and accept shame.
Fretting about events over which we have little or no control only expends energy. It is a futile pursuit. As an alternative, the Stoics advocate that we should only concern ourselves about the events that we can control.
Here are three things you can do right now:
1. Identify which events in your life are uncontrollable
Make a list of all the things that worry you. Move the things you can control to one side, and the things you can’t to the other side.
2. Worry only about the list of events you can control
Far too often, we focus on events and situations that we have little control over. You fear that a new leader has been hired to replace you. You worry that your annual performance review will be subpar and that you will feel shame. In reality, you can’t control whether a new hire is destined to replace you. But you can control your own performance and focus on proving your value to your organization. So, keep that list in front of you at all times, and focus on only those items.
3. Prioritize the events you can control
Our brains like structure to land on. So in order for you to build better focus and plan, start to prioritize the events you can control. And then concentrate only on those you can control. Prioritize the things you can control.
Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is The Way, explains, “People are unhappy because they chase things that they don’t control.” Stoicism involves identifying the difference between what’s in your control and what’s out of your control.
Now you have a way to refocus your energy, and to enable you to move forward in a more constructive and positive fashion.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner