Leadership and stress can go hand in hand. Leaders do a lot of hard things. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it moves leaders to action. However, it can become burdensome and troubling if internalized.
I love the following story. It puts it all in perspective for leaders and can help them deal appropriately with the stresses that come with the mantle of leadership.
A speaker was once explaining stress to an audience of around 300 people. He raised a big glass of water and asked the listening audience, “Does anyone know how heavy this glass is?” Answers varied from 100 to 500 grams.
The speaker replied, “The absolute weight of this water really doesn’t matter all that much. What really matters is how long you try to hold it!”
He continued, “If I am only holding it for a few minutes, the weight won’t be a problem. If I have to hold it for an hour I might begin to feel an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm is going begin to feel numb and even paralyzed.”
“This is like stress and worries in our lives. If you think about your stress and the things you are worried about for a short time, there is little impact. If you think about them longer they can begin to hurt. And if you think about them all the time they can eventually become so heavy we can’t carry on.”
He said, “Like the glass of water, put the stress down and rest from time to time before picking it back up. When we feel refreshed, then pick it back up and carry on with a rested and possibly different perspective.”
I encourage us as leaders to do the same. Before driving home from work today, put it down. Your family and friends need your non-stressed self and in turn their attention will put the most important things in perspective.