How to Not Fail from Anxiety

Seth Godin perfectly describes anxiety as “repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

When anxiety attacks me (and I’m an over-thinker, a pre-planner and a visualizer, so yes, it creeps up often), I follow a few steps:

  1. Decide whether my anxiety is rational or irrational–Is the problem really something that needs to be fixed or am I compounding things by being hyper-sensitive?
  2. Take action. When overall anxiety starts to get the best of me, I find it’s easiest to break the day down in to chunks. If you’ve ever been a runner, chances are you can relate that it’s much easier to run light pole to light pole rather than thinking of the whole route or mile to mile rather than focusing on the whole 26.2 mile marathon all at once. I look at the moments right in front of me and start knocking out what needs to be done.
  3.  Work towards doing more of what scares me. Anxiety is fear and by tackling the things I’m afraid of, I build the confidence to face the unknown with less hesitation in the future.

There are plenty of other useful anxiety-tackling tactics. When I hit a period where anxiety seems to shadow me everywhere, I first look at what I’m eating and try to cut out the caffeine, alcohol, processed whites  and sugar then add more lean protein, leafy greens, berries, nuts to my diet. Not to mention that exercise is the best stress-relief around. Pile some extra sweat sessions on top of the better diet, and wow–what a difference it can make!

I try to be aware of when anxiety starts to take over and nix the negative speak right from the beginning. There are some mantras that I repeat like “It’s just another day,” “This doesn’t define my life” or “This is small compared to what I’ve accomplished.” And finally, when I am most overwhelmed and anxious, if I take the time to volunteer, help someone else, or do something I love, the lack of perceived time that got me in a panic in the first place fades and there is always more time than I thought for the things that are truly important.

Books You Should Read

Here are some good reads that have inspired me lately…they range in topic but all have made me think, change, smile or cry. Feel free to share your own Must-Reads!

Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath             This book does more than just outline the steps to change, Chip and Dan Heath provide story after story to inspire it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein                                                              All I can say is WOW, grab the Kleenex and get ready for a dose of heart-wrenching perspective.

The Icarus Deception, Linchpin and Tribes (All 3) by Seth Godin                                  What can I say about Seth Godin? I love his stuff! He’s unafraid of failing and he’s certainly okay with telling it like he sees it. These books range from taking risks to leading to finding the right group.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin                                                                   While I don’t line up with Gretchen on all of her views, which is expected, I really was able to take some of my favorite “resolutions” that she created and implement them on my own terms.

Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate by Amy Jo Martin                                                                                                             Social Media…what more can I say?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald                                                                       Right, I know…I’m a little embarrassed to put this on the list for recent reads. I don’t know how it slipped through the cracks for me but I’m glad a movie release prompted me to dig it up!! I already have a new quote for my most loved list:

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” -Chapter I, Page I of the Great Gatsby

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden                                                I’ve got a few favorites by Arden. It’s really a fun read…a little weird.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg                                                                                         The subtitle to this book is “Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris                                                       David Sedaris inspires me and makes me laugh. He’s unapologetic for who he is and he’s just utterly fascinating.

Small Message, Big Impact by Terri Sjodin                                                                   I had the pleasure of seeing her speak at the Virginia Association of Broadcasters Convention this past June, which was quite engaging. This book is all about the art of persuasion.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me by Jenny Slate & David Fleisher-Camp                                                                                                            Honestly, Marcel just makes me happy and I’m happy to have the book for prosperity’s sake…but there’s no knowing Marcel until you know her from her videos!! 

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith                                 This is a decent read. Goldsmith points out some bad habits to watch out for. The title really gets me thinking beyond the content of the book in some ways. READ the book, however. I first tried the audio version in which the author himself reads aloud…you’re better off on your own!

So, that’s that and here’s to summer reading!! Please do share if your own favorites…great books only get better the more they are read.

How Music Intensifies my Life

As I set out for my Saturday morning run, I am checking to be sure the playlist I want to listen to is synced to my phone. The sky is a canvass of cloud and I’m expecting the rain to come at some point while I’m out there. The air is thick and there is a haze covering the mountains in the distance. I’m excited to crest a hill while the sun tries to burn off the fog in the distance as the sound of an electric violin symphony accompanies me on the road. My playlist for this morning is perfect for the morning free of any obligation and makes me feel alive.

Music is all-encompassing. It’s part of my most vivid memories and I’ve got soundtracks that match certain times of my life. Some songs remind me of my strength and others my vulnerability. I can still remember the oldies my dad would play when I was young, the ones we sang aloud together in his car. Boyz II Men brings me back to my first school dance and I’ve got a very specific playlist in my mind that got me through the training of my first marathon. And there is of course, the White Stripes album I play now to get ready for a big presentation.

For me, I’ve leaned on music to full the things I’m passionate about. I can’t imagine a day with out a beat to match my mood. What part has music played in your life?

A True Story about Being Oneself

Recently, a colleague at a sister station told me about his first day on the job with our company. It was about some really valuable advice he had gotten. It inspired me and I hope it does the same for others.

For the record, I am not quoting him verbatim. I am recording my recollection of his story and passing it along.

It was day one of the new job and there was a conference call with the boss this morning. Feeling new and facing the unknown, the expectations of the call were high and full of nerves.

Instead, the call lasted just minutes.

“Did you get your family settled in? Are you happy to be back in the area?”

And then, lastly, the most valuable piece of advice.

“You’re here for a reason. Just don’t go out there and try to be something you’re not.”

The advice was perfectly timed, he told me, as just moments before he sat in his office trying to figure out how to be just that–something that he wasn’t so he could quickly assimilate and please the team.

What’s incredible to me about this revelation, is that he is one of the most unique people I know. It would never occur to me that he could ever be anything other than authentic. And it’s an affirmation that the decision to fit in or go your own road is something that everyone faces.

I can’t think of a single remarkable leader who followed someone else’s path in order to fit in.

Honestly, No Apology is Needed

We’ve all done it. At some point we have apologized for something we haven’t even said yet. “I’m sorry , but….” or “I hope you don’t mind me saying…”.

The cause of most worry, stress and anxiety is attachment, our attachment to the outcome we are seeking. We personally invest ourselves in the effect our words may have or the effect we want them to have.

It gets even more complicated in the digital world of text messages, emails, posts. But it’s important to let go of the attachment to our own words. And it’s one of the hardest things to really do.

It’s taken me a really long time to stop trying to craft what I say or write because I am cautious of eliciting a certain response because it really is impossible to predict how someone else will react to those words.

This is what I have learned to remember when I start self-editing or pre-emptively apologizing for what I need to say:

Speak from the heart but with a clear mind. Then let the words go and just listen.       Stop worrying about how the comments are perceived and open up to hearing           the other person. Give up the need to appear favorable to others.                                 Not everything said will always be pleasant, it may be painful or discerning,                 but if it’s honest and without judgement, it’s the best that can be done.

Authenticity is King (or Queen)

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”  Marilyn Monroe

Why is it so important to be authentic?

We hold on to our past and constantly let it define us. We spend too much time worrying about how we should act based on other people’s judgements. And when the people and the things we attach ourselves to go away, we are left confused, because we’ve let those things make up who we are.

But we are not who we were.  And there is no way to fit in because nobody does. The opportunity to live remarkably is in our choice to speak honestly with meaning and with passion and to find the courage let go, really let go.


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