By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you cope with stressful situations. Reading time: 3:21
The stock is down. Business is falling off. Morale is even lower.
The CEO opens his staff meeting with what everyone expected, announcing no bonuses will be paid this year “but I do have a gift for each of you.”
The CEO passes out monogrammed set of handkerchiefs to each of his 8 direct reports. How embarrassing!
The executives were angry that the CEO would stoop to putting his whole team on some sort of guilt trip while he berated their collective performance .
“ No, no, no crying jag this morning. No wiping our bloodied noses either,” said the CEO quickly plugging what seemed like the rumbling Volcano of Vindictiveness.
He unfolded one of his handkerchiefs and spread it out on the table. All eyes were glued to the 12-inch white square contrasted against the mahogony table in the executive conference room.
The CEO finally intoned “I think of this handkerchief as a kind of trampoline.”
The CEO then asked for help from three executives sitting closest to him. They all stood up. He invited them to each take an edge of the handkerchief.
The CEO picked up his edge and coached all four of them to start tugging the handkerchief in four different directions.
Then the CEO smiled, readying to make his teaching point. “The more tension we have around here, the stronger this trampoline,” the CEO added. “And let’s face it we’re strong with all this tension built up around us. Now let’s harness all that tension and bounce back higher than ever as we go forward.”
The CEO and his team had confronted and conquered the elephant in the room. Sure they had a bad year. But that was sooooo LAST year.
Let’s refocus. Now they could work through a highly productive strategy session, looking at new opportunities and rethinking old ideas.
The CEO taught his executive team a critical leadership skill: reframing reality to better cope with stress and finding value in what most perceive as a negative: TENSION.
Throughout the meeting, the CEO casually planted a few other seeds that demonstrated the significance and value of TENSION.
For example, the CEO told this story set in the Colonial days. Then beds were suspended by ropes tied to the bed frame. In order to “sleep tight” a person would use a tool to tighten the ropes, strengthen the tension and enhance the comfort of the mattress.
The CEO casually mentioned that without tension the 639 muscles in your body would atrophy. But with tension, the muscles in the human body pull on the bones during exercise and stimulate their growth.
Later the CEO noted that tension sparks achievement and quoted Harry Emerson Fosdick from his book Living Under Tension:
“No horse gets anywhere
UNTIL he is harnessed.
No steam or gas engine ever drives anything
UNTILl it is confined.
No Niagara is ever turned into light and power
UNTIL it is tunneled.
No life ever grows great
UNTIL it is focused,
dedicated and disciplined.”
Especially when a handkerchief is doing double duty. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!
Leverage tension to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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