I call this entry “Stress I” because it will be the first in a series. Stress is such an important topic in just about everybody’s lives that it makes sense to revisit it often.
I read and listened to many people’s opinions about the need for stress as motivation. But can someone tell me of an account where they felt stressed and that it was the stress that made a positive impact on their work? – the actual feeling of stress?
The late great Stephen Covey has published the following phrase at least a couple of times in his books:
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space there is our ability to choose a response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
I simply cannot believe that allowing an increase of stress into our lives would help us choose better responses to stimulus – quite the opposite. If I had to make an important decision and I was given the following choices I would choose D:
A) Be stressed by the amount of time I had to make the decision
B) Listen to a crying infant
C) Be interrupted every ten minutes
D) None of the above
Is there someone who would choose A, B, or C in order to motivate them?
If your response is: Those are not the types of stress that would motivate me., then my response would be: Then you are not talking about stress because stress does not change character from source to source, only intensity. The stress on a bridge caused by a tank, an elephant or a todler is only different in the amount of stress.
A good comparison is noise (disorganized sound). If we don’t have some noise around us we feel anxious (try going in a soundless room – very eery because all you hear is your breathing and blood pumping). But no one lives in a vacuum, so saying that we “need” noise is theoretical sillyness. Beyond what is impossible to achieve without going into a soundless room, adding noise to our environs only decreases our capacity to concentrate.
Now just replace noise with stress. Of course we can’t avoid stress. We can’t live in stressless bubbles. But the amount we need is well below what any sane person would define as “stress”.