Stress doesn't need to be an overwhelming, life-shortening emotion. As a leader, you can use the stress of a fast-paced business environment to the advantage of your company and your employees. All you need to do is reframe stress from a negative thing to bond-forming exercise.
Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, explains in Harvard Business Review how the military uses the inherent stress of war as a team-building tool.
"After centuries of practice, the military has learned that if you go through stress 1) with the right lens and 2) with other people, you can create meaningful narratives and social bonds that people will talk about for the rest of their lives," Achor writes. The experience can even serve to keep people in the service--or, for that matter, at a company--when there are better options available. The key, he writes, is that "organizations like the military derive their culture from the pride of being able to overcome challenges together."
Below, find out how to put the right lens on stress and infuse it with meaning to motivate yourself and your employees.
Frame stress with the right lens
If stress is dragging you and your employees down, you need to change the way you perceive it. For example, instead of getting stressed when you see you have a pile of email to respond to, reframe it as a challenge that you'll benefit from overcoming. "Behind every stressor--even a never-ending slog with your inbox--there's an opportunity for you to develop aspects of your potential, such as patience, endurance, and efficiency," Achor writes.
Infuse meaning into stress
When the challenges that stress you out have no meaning, you aren't driven to overcome them. But if you apply a greater context to the stressors, you and your employees will work through the stress. "We need to connect the dots between meaning and stress in order to help individuals and teams excel," Achor writes
Stress is a team sport
Achor says you need to "inspire and train team leaders to help their teams see stressors as a meaningful group challenge." Taking a page out of the NFL playbook, he suggests emphasizing the notion that it's "teams, not individuals, who win championships." Help your employees realize that stress is a team sport--if you all work together, you'll spread out the work and get things done efficiently.