How to stay calm in the chaos

Calm in chaos Ellis Fox blog

As much as we talk about creating a better work life balance for ourselves and fellow work colleagues, this is hard to achieve. The economy is all over the place and there’s a great deal of uncertainty. The costs of living keep rising, for companies, margins keep getting eroded away and as everything gets more expensive, it’s becoming harder to keep ahead.

Our natural default is to work more. We shift the pressure to ourselves and our team to become more efficient and stretch whatever resources we have. Unfortunately, none of these efforts change the fact that a day is just 24 hours long. Time doesn’t increase because we need it to.

So what can change?

There’s an interesting TED talk by ER doctor Darria Long. She suggests that how we think about stress frames how we respond to it. If we think the chaos we find ourselves in is overwhelming, we won’t be able to function effectively through it.

Think about it for a minute. How did you respond to the last stressful situation you were in? Were you able to remain calm or did it put your head in a spin?

Now ER doctors have to remain calm even when there’s chaos. And they do this by training to be ready for whatever comes their way. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, they endless prioritise cases. They know what defines a priority and they focus on those first, refusing to get distracted by everything else that is demanding their attention. They identify what needs to be done and they put their effort into that. This is what makes them effective despite the chaos. And they save lives that way.

How can you apply this?

When you find yourself in high pressure situations, look for the priorities. What’s urgent, what can’t afford not to be done (guaranteed the list is not as long as you think it is), and what will have the most impact on successful outcomes? Then know you and your team have the skills and knowledge to achieve what is needed.

Instead of thinking of the chaos and getting overwhelmed, take small deliberate actions that’ll get you further along to achieving your goals. Don’t get distracted by noise and lesser priorities. Know what needs to be achieved and focus your efforts on that. That’s when you may find yourself feeling not only calm, but also confident.