How To Handle Stress


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 91. 

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Hey Builders,

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagine podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we are going to talk about the difference between the way that bosses, leaders and builders manage their stress. Now, this was not an episode that I had originally planned when I was thinking about the boss leader builder season, but just this week, I have been having a lot of conversations with builders inside of builder ship university with people who are attending some of our private builders, labs, and even people inside of the pop up group. And it is just amazing to me how stressed out everyone is right now. And it's a different kind of stress than the stress we experienced last year at the very beginning of the pandemic.

This type of stress is different.

This is a stress that I think is in some ways even more dangerous than that kind of shock fight flight freeze kind of stress that we're used to feeling because this is a low grade stress. It's it's kind of hanging out there in the background. And what it's doing is it's you know, taking our concentration, siphoning off our ability to focus, it's taking away some of our energy, we just everybody's tired, everybody's exhausted. And even after returning from the break, people are just still tired. And so I wanted to talk about the difference between the way that bosses, leaders and builders manage stress because I think that in order to manage the kind of stress, we're all under right now this low grade, consistent constant stress, we are going to have to to do something differently. And when I say we, I'm talking to myself as well, because I feel it I mean, with everything going on in the world right now. I feel the stress too. And so let's talk about that.

Before we do, I want to talk to you about something that is not giving me any stress at all, because builders lab is coming up in next week, we have just spent the last week packing off and sending off the builders boxes. I'm so excited for everybody to get these boxes. If you have a ticket to the January builders lab and you haven't gotten your box, you know, sometime this week, give us a call at the office at 1-888-565-8881. Or send an email to info at mindset, we want to make sure that you get your boxes. And this is going to be a pretty full builders lab. But I'm so excited about this one because we're going to be debuting two new tools that we've been playing around with inside of Buildership University. And this is the first time I'm going to be teaching them at builders lab. So I'm really excited about that. People have been asking about the next builders lab. And we are going to be doing the next builders lab in June. And we'll give you the exact dates shortly. But for those of you who are thinking about it, we're going to be doing it at the end of June that last week of June. And so you can just mark that on your calendar.

Shortly after we complete this Builders Lab, we'll open up tickets for the next Builders Lab. 

If you're listening to this sometime in the future, and you want to come to builders lab, just go to mind steps slash builders dash lab, and you can look at the dates for the next upcoming builders labs and get your tickets. One of the reasons that we're not sure about the dates in June is because we're trying to figure out if we're going to go back to in person or it's just going to be another builders lab 360. Or we're going to do a hybrid event. And so we're kind of watching really closely what's happening in the world to see what we do and how do we do build this lab in a way that gives you the value in the meaning and also keeps you faith. So just tune in, we should have some more information in the next couple of weeks. Okay, the other announcement is that if you did not get a ticket for builders lab, but you want to see what it's like we will be live streaming the first session of builders lab inside of the school leadership reimagined Facebook group. So if you want to see the first session of builders lab absolutely free. All you need to do is join the school leadership reimagined Facebook group on Facebook and we'll be streaming live there. So that's, that's going to be really cool opportunity. And then the last announcement is that in just a few weeks, we are going to be opening up builders ship University again, and we're going to do, we're going to take in another cohort of builders, and then we're going to close it down. So Builder's University right now will not be perpetually open. So we will probably open up once a quarter, bring in a cohort of folks get you settled, get you started on your your success path. And then once we know that you're straight and you've gotten that personalized attention, then we'll open it up for another cohort to get that thing.

That's the model that we're going to be using, because it's been working so far with our founding members. And I just need to say this, I love working with our founding members so much, it's probably one of my favorite like top five things that I do our builders trip University is unlike any other kind of group or membership site that I've ever been a part of, because it is so intimate because people are there, they're getting to know each other, they're supporting each other. You know, we are really a tribe inside of there. And it's also fun for me to see long term, the results that people are getting the success stories that they're telling, it seems like every time we have office hours, now someone gets on with another success story, they are just knocking down barriers, and it's so gratifying to see. So listen out for builders shipping University, and that reopening. And then the final thing is that my book is coming out. And I think it'll be out February five. And I'm also excited to announce that my book has been selected as the member book for ascd. For those of you who are in the premium membership of ascd. So I'm so excited about this book, this is really some of my best work. And so I can't wait to share more with you. We're going to be doing some fun things as we launched the book coming at the beginning of February, but we got to get through January's builders lab first. So we're going to do that. And then we're going to be focusing on the books. So stay tuned to hear more about that. Okay, so I think that's all the announcements.

Let's be honest. Given everything that's going on at Mindsteps right now, I'm experiencing a little bit of low grade stress.

I mean, it's good stress, because, you know, we've got builders lab that's full, we've got, you know, build a ship University and things that are going there, we've got a couple of private builders labs that we're doing right now. So I'm just you know, and the book is coming out and all the stuff around the book, we've got a couple of other projects that we're working on for the first quarter is a lot of stress. But as much stress as I'm under, I know that you're under as much if not more, because you're also dealing with, you know, just the workload of your normal job responsibilities. And you're also dealing with parents who are anxious and then some of them are anxious to bring their children back to school. Some of them are anxious, because they're worried about going back to school, you're dealing with anxious teachers. And so you if you're not careful, you can begin to absorb all of that stress. Plus, you're dealing with policies coming at you from your district. And one day the district says this, and one day, the district says that, and that's just your job, then we also have to consider all of the stressful things that are happening in the world. I don't care what your political ideology is, what's happening in the political space is disturbing. And so we are being daily assaulted with images of violence and and and rhetoric on both sides. And, and so that is stressful. 

We're also in the middle of a pandemic. And not only that the pent the virus is mutating. And so now we're getting new warnings about things. And there's a lot of uncertainty. You know, many students have not been in physically in the school building coming up on a year now. And so we've got that stress going on, too. And so I want to talk to you about the difference between the way that bosses, leaders and builders handle stress. So what bosses do is when they feel stressed out, bosses immediately try to control their environment in order to remove the stress. So sometimes controlling their environment means that they work harder, they double down, they stressed out, so they want to mitigate their stress. So they start working harder to try to kind of catch up because they feel like if they can catch up, then the stress goes away. Sometimes that that that attempt at control results in trying to control people. So they would they drive the people who work for them harder, they are harder on those people, they're, they're more critical. They're more judgmental, they are they're more, they micromanage more. And a lot of that is a function of just trying to exert some control over things so that you don't feel so stressed out anymore. Not only does it create more stress for you, but it really burns out your people.

That never works. So don't handle stress like a boss.

If you feel like you're doing that, then in a minute, I'm going to talk to you about a different way of handling it. Now what leaders do is when leaders tried to handle stress leaders often try to go into the direction of self care and caring for the people. So what leaders will often do is they'll say we're all stressed right now. Because leaders are always about that in the ethos of a leader is, let's go, then when there are times of stress that the leader will try to not just mitigate their own stress, but mitigate everybody else's stress. So leaders invest in self care, they take a day off every once in a while just to clear their minds, or they go on vacation, or they run themselves a bubble bath and put candles up, or they try to get more sleep and take care of their bodies. And they're also trying to take care of people. So they look for ways to reduce people's workloads, they look for ways to to give people a forum and a place to talk about why they're so stressed out. They send their teachers care packages, you know, a lot of leaders have what I call the doily gene, so they know how to, you know, make something really special for people. And, you know, if we were in the building, this is the time that you are, you know, buying everybody lunch that day, or this is the time where you're putting cupcakes in the staff lounge or bagels in the staff lounge. And now we're trying to do that virtually.

When you are a leader, what you try to do is you resort, sorry, to the caring mode, where you're trying to take care of other people, yourself and other people. The challenge with that is twofold one, in your attempts to try to take care of other people and to try to mitigate the stress for them, you end up absorbing a lot of their stress. And that can be very toxic to your own well being. The second problem is that self care only lasts for a little bit. Yes, it feels good to take a bubble bath, yes, it feels great to take a couple of days off, or to take a vacation or, or to do something to kind of take care of yourself. But the results of that they're very ephemeral. I mean, how many times have you taken a vacation, and it's taking you two or three days to you know, to decompress from all of your stress. And the right when you're decompress, and you're starting to enjoy yourself, it's time to go back and then you start worrying about going back. And when you go back, it feels like that vacation was three months ago instead of three days ago. How many times have we taken a bath and or you know lit candles or eaten something really amazing and we enjoyed in the moment. But as soon as it's over, we're back to that same level of dread. At the most those self care rituals, those taking care of other people, those those cupcakes in the staff lounge, they provide a temporary respite from the stress, but they don't remove the stress. So don't handle stress like a boss and try to control it. Don't handle stress like a leader and try to care your way out of it. 

Handle Stress like a Builder.

Builders recognize that stress happens usually, when we feel like we are doing work that's out of alignment with our primary well driver. So if your primary role driver is mastery, the source of your stress right now is that you feel like under the conditions that you're experiencing right now you cannot be as good as your job at your job as you know you should be. So that's kind of driving a lot of our stress. And we also hear that our teachers, our teachers are saying, I'm a good teacher, but I can't teach under these circumstances, or I can't teach when the students aren't showing up or whatever it is. That's the that's your mastery wheel driver saying, I am stressed out because the thing that drives and feeds my motivation is being encumbered right now. I can't feel masterful at whatever it is I'm trying to do. Because of my current circumstances. If you are a belonging driven person, your source of stress is the isolation that is happening right now. And so you're you are stressed out because you're not able to connect with your students or your staff members and you're feeling very isolated, working remotely, or people are upset and angry with you. And you're absorbing all of that because you are you're you care about what other people think you care about how they feel. But you don't have a tool to multitask. I mean, that's metastasized, that's not what I'm trying to say, metabolize all of that, that stress, you're just absorbing it and carrying it but you can't metabolize it.

Now, if you are a purpose driven person, then the source of your stress right now is that there is a bigger purpose that you're trying to move your school towards. And again, you're feeling that the circumstances right now are taking everybody's attention away from what's really important. And you're focusing a lot on minutiae minutiae in the sense that it's it's important, it's urgent, but it's not the bigger picture idea that you're trying to move your school towards right now. So you're consumed with sanitizing classrooms and PP E and making sure that your schedule works and all of those things. And that's really not your strong suit. your strong suit is Who are we as a school and where are we going and what's our vision and our mission. And so if you're purpose driven, the stress that you're having right now is that you're being asked to do a lot of work that takes you away from the work you really want to do. If your autonomy driven, a lot of the source of your stress is that the circumstances are limiting the amount of choices that you have, you are reliant more than ever on dictates from on high, whether that be your district or your state or the the the the government or the CDC. And so the choices that you have the the autonomy that you have, is limited Not only that, people are calling you more parents are calling making demands and, and and teachers are making demands, and the district has demands. And so you're just kind of being pecked to death by all of these different demands, and you don't have the freedom that you're used to having to be able to do your job effectively. 

Builders realize and recognize that at the heart of our stress is incongruency.

It is an incongruency with our between our circumstances and our will driver. Our circumstances right now are threatening our ability to, to to feed our drivers. And so what builders do when they recognize they're feeling stressed, they say, Okay, what part of my life is directly threatening my will driver, whether that's mastery, or belonging, or purpose, or autonomy. And then what they're doing is they builders deliberately feed their will driver. So their self care rituals are not, you know, something I saw on Pinterest, or you know, I enjoy a good bath, maybe that that'll do it, their self care rituals are if I'm mastery driven. My self care ritual is where can I find some mastery in my life? I'm not finding it in my job right now, necessarily. But what can I do to feel a better sense of mastery, whether it be my job or my life? If you're blogging, driven, or connection driven? You're asking yourself, how can I create new connections that feed my need for connection, but also serve the work? If you're autonomy driven? You're saying, Okay, these are the choices I don't have? What choices do I have? And what work do I need to do to give myself more choices later on? And if you're purpose driven, you go back to your WHY? And you say, How can I still pursue this? Why, under these circumstances, and when you do that, instead of feeling stressed, and helpless, and, and absorbing everybody else's stress and pain and helplessness, what you're doing is you're being proactive, and you're doing it in a way that aligns with your will driver, which not only mitigates your own stress, but it helps you move forward in the work that you are trying to do.

So there's a double benefit of handling stress, like a builder. Now, I'm giving you this kind of in a short period of time, I mean, unless you know, kind of this the space of this podcast, but don't dismiss the importance of this. You see, what a lot of people don't realize right now is that a lot of what's happening to us feels like death by 1000 cuts. And I hear a lot of leaders and bosses saying I shouldn't feel this way, I should be grateful that, you know, we still are able to do X, Y, and Z. And their should, should, should, should should all over the place. And what they're doing is they are not dealing with their stress. They're trying to convince themselves that they aren't stressed. Well, don't do that you are and we all are. And if we can't look at one big incident say this is the source of our stress in most cases. And so we feel like because we can't do that, or because there are people who are worse off that we don't have the right to feel stressed. We are experiencing I hate to say it, everybody's been saying an unprecedent at times and at some point, you know, I want to get to precedented. You know, like we keep saying unprecedented. And then something else happens that is quote unquote unprecedented. But that feels like death by 1000 cuts. And a lot of times it's the micro stressors that do it. So first step is you got to monitor recognize your stress, a lot of us are walking around carrying a lot of stress.

A lot of the stress is coming from other people.

We don't have a way to metabolize it so we're just carrying it and we've been carrying it for so long. We don't even feel the weight of it anymore, but it's still there. So if that's you if you are you're carrying stressing you don't even you're not even aware of it. The first thing is you got to recognize that you are carrying that stress. So you pay attention to your body you pay attention to where you are tense you know I've been noticing this week I've been doing a lot of hunched shoulder kind of stuff as we try to get some things out and get ready for builder's lab. So just trying to pay attention to how the stress that I am feeling it's manifesting and then also pay attention to your wall driver is he there is a way to deal with your stress but you have to do you have to deal with your stress in a way that also aligns with your will Jarvis so pay attention to your will driver. And then finally be intentional about feeding your wolf driver. That's the only way that you are going to get rid of that stress.

Now, here's the bonus, not only can you feed your will driver, but after you fed your will driver, instead of absorbing everybody else's stress, you can start to be proactive about the stress around you by recognizing where it's coming from. So if I have a teacher who is complaining because they feel like they can't teach the way that they need to teach to reach our students, then I might guess that that will that teachers will drivers mastery. So what can I do to help that teacher feel a sense of mastery in these unfamiliar teaching conditions of a teacher who is complaining and saying, I just want to see my kids again, that teacher may have a well driver of connection or belonging? So what can I do to help that teacher feel that sense of connection of belonging with our students and with our colleagues? If you have a teacher who's complaining that they are they lack choices, their their will drive or maybe autonomy? So what choices what meaningful choices? Can I help that teacher recognize and see and take advantage of? That? Sometimes you have teachers who are frustrated, because we seem to have lost our why. 

How do I connect our current crisis to our bigger why?

Connect in a way that helps teachers see that. So first, put on your own oxygen mask, first, you take care of you. First, think about how you need to feed your own will driver. And then once you've done that, start paying attention to the complaints that are happening around you the stresses that are happening around you. And instead of trying to fix it or control it or carried away, start feeding the will driver that's behind that stress. When you do, you not only handle your stress, but you help other people to handle their stress, like a builder. That's it for today.

I'll talk to you next time. 

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside you'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join build a ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll see you then!

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