Quint's Column: How to develop workplace stamina and endurance
- June 10, 2019
- / Quint Studer
- / quint-studer,training-development
Have you ever wondered why some people fall apart when things get crazy and stressful and others don’t? The difference is usually stamina and endurance. It doesn’t get talked about all that much but these are important success traits. When developing your skill set, you need to consider building them up. This is especially true right now.
Workplaces are more complex than ever, which means more busyness and uncertainty than ever. There are just more chances for things to go wrong. You need to be able to function in the thick of stress, and to do that, you need stamina and endurance. People who can stick with things usually end up as winners.
We often hear people say, “Success is a marathon, not a sprint,” but the reality is a little more nuanced. The truth is, you have to have both sprinting power (the ability to put in the extra hours and effort it takes to get things done during crunch time) and staying power (the ability to hang on during tough times and keep going when the going gets tough).
Stamina and endurance are muscles. If a muscle doesn’t get used, it doesn’t get developed. Being able to navigate stressful situations and work with difficult people usually comes with time and experience. That’s why instead of quitting when things get tough, we should strive to get that experience—to actually seek out the things that feel uncomfortable and stressful.
A few tips for developing stamina and endurance:
First, be honest with yourself: Are you easily overwhelmed? It’s important to know that about yourself so you can start paying attention to what triggers you and start taking steps to get stronger.
Don’t run from tough situations. Look for tough people to work for. Ask for challenging projects. Both will make you stronger and more resilient.
Don’t mistake complexity for stress. Workplaces are getting more complex. Learn steps to work through situations and break them down into manageable pieces. Think of this as problem-solving or putting a puzzle together—just making that mental shift can help you to stop getting upset and start getting focused.
When you get critical feedback, hold up the mirror. Ask yourself if the person has a point. If you realize what they are saying is true, own it. Commit to getting better. We are all human and make mistakes, and we can also all improve.
What can you do to avoid the stress next time? What is making the situation stressful? Figure that out and see if you can fix it.
Don’t dwell on things. When you have an unpleasant encounter with a boss, coworker, or client, don’t replay it over and over in your mind. Even if you truly believe that person is in the wrong, you’re only harming yourself. Learn the fine art of letting go and moving on.
Don’t be a complainer and an “awful-izer.” Some projects, circumstances, and people are difficult and aggravating. But try not to make too much of these things. Deliberately cultivating a positive attitude not only makes people like you more (and want to work with you), it can actually put you in a better mood. It’s the “fake it till you make it” principle.
Master good work habits. There are too many to list them all here, but in general, strive to be organized, efficient, and a good communicator and time manager. Work when you are supposed to be working. When stressful situations arise, at least you will know you aren’t creating additional problems due to poor habits.
Be aware of how you are feeling and why. Don’t take your emotional temperature every five minutes, but do know what’s stressful and how it affects you. Being tired or hungry makes things worse. Know that sometimes you are reacting to that. Being in touch with your emotional state can prevent you from blowing a situation out of proportion.
Learn a few go-to stress management techniques. Whether you do deep breathing or just take a quick 10-minute walk around the block, these tactics can help you calm down and refocus so you can keep going. Some people swear by a regular meditation practice as well.
Take good care of your health. We are talking about mental and emotional stamina here, but without a doubt, these are tied into physical health. If you aren’t eating well, exercising, or getting enough sleep, you will be groggy and sluggish.
When you are at your breaking point, step away from the issue that’s stressing you out and come back to it in a day or two. Often during that time, the situation will resolve itself, or you’ll have a breakthrough and see how to fix it.
Learn to set boundaries and have tough conversations. This may seem counter to the subject of endurance but it really isn’t. Endurance doesn’t mean enduring everything. It doesn’t mean never speaking up for yourself. If you are letting yourself be abused or taken advantage of and the situation goes on and on, resentment will build and things will eventually boil over.
If you’re a leader, ask yourself if you are allowing the “stamina and endurance muscle” to be developed. Are you practicing park ranger leadership, where you swoop in and rescue people every time they get into a jam? If so, make an effort to stop.
The better you get at navigating stressful things, the more valuable you will be inside an organization. And of course, stamina and endurance will benefit you in every area of life, because—at one point or another—we all face challenges and hard times. We are all tested from time to time, and we need to be able to rise to the occasion when it’s called for.
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