Why stress makes you less effective
Efficiency requires that you can maintain focus on your task while being able to respond to moment by moment changes. Efficiency has siblings and these are: adaptability, flexibility and reflexivity. These are three of the most powerful tools you have in the service of a successful and joyful life. Most problems that you will encounter in life are a result of a combination of at least three things. Mistaken direction, loss of flexibility/adaptability and a failure to recognize that there is a problem.
Life is complex and it is often hard to know what the correct thing to do is. That is a simple fact of life. Many decisions are ‘good enough’ but not perfect and need adjustment as things progress. It is important therefore that you can adapt to the moment by moment changes that indicate you need to make re-think your plans. We all make wrong turns, the key point is not to go so far down a wrong turn that you lose sight of the true goal.
Flexibility is important for a healthy body and also for a healthy mind. Concrete thinking styles limit your options. They inhibit your innate creativity and they reduce your chances of achieving your goals. Fight the loss of flexibility that life seems to thrust onto us.
While flexibility is being able to bend with the blows, adaptability is what you do after your house has burnt down. It is the recognition and utilization of your possible options. You always have more options than you could possibly be aware of. We all live in very complex societies and the very different life trajectories that people experience testifies to the fact that options always exist but we don’t always see them nor recognise then for what they are if we do see them.
Stress makes you feel threatened. It makes you feel vulnerable. This often makes you respond by working harder (at least at first). Stress focuses your mind on surviving a task. It leads you to allocate your precious life resources to getting things done. One of the first casualties of stress is your ability to recognise the effects the stress is having on you and those close to you. That is okay in the short to medium term but when stress becomes a constant companion in your life it reduces your efficiency by narrowing your attention to task related matters. And this inhibits your ability to use your gifts to craft a better more survivable solution. As your stress levels rise so you attention narrows and this includes any attention you would allocate to problem solving your stressful situation. It is vital that you try to maintain an over-arching interest in your wellbeing because, in the end, that is a better predictor of life success than any work place activity you may participate in. Watch this film and it will explain how this powerful and often hidden process works.