How often are you freaking out? How I learned to roll with the punches.

I used to have a short temper. I would fly off the handle when things didn’t go my way. This was rough on not only me, but everyone around me.

I have been working on this personality trait for really as long as I can remember, but I would have major setbacks from time to time. Now, I have it under control more than ever, but I’ll remain on this journey with the goal of continuing to improve.

For me, the key has been to fight my emotions when something doesn’t go as planned and to try to look at it from a neutral perspective. Here is an example of a recent freakout that may have opened my eyes a bit.

A couple of years ago while visiting a friend, someone backed into my 1996 Ford Mustang Cobra that was in excellent condition and had less than 40,000 miles on it. This is my high school dream car, so of course, I went bananas. Everyone was telling me it’s not that bad. It could have been worse. They didn’t understand; this was my baby!

The person who hit my car did have insurance and we have an amazing body shop just down the street from my house. So after about a week, It was like it had never happened. Why did I put myself through that stress? I think about this often, especially when I am waxing my car and get to what is now the nicest panel on it... I should actually call that lady and thank her!

Fast forward to this year: we hosted Thanksgiving lunch for most of our family (16 people). We knew we would need to get started early if we were going to be ready by lunch, so my wife and I prepped everything the night before so we could wake up at 5 am and start cooking.

I woke up during a rainstorm at 4:45 am and went downstairs to get started… the power was out! I double-checked with a quick peek across the street to see if there were street lights on and they weren’t. This was real. Now it’s time to panic.

I woke my wife up and she, too, went into panic mode. We quickly calmed down and started problem-solving. We had options: Move our meal to a later time? Surely the power will be on soon. Move it to someone else's house? As soon as we get loaded and do that, though, the power will return. Use the generator we have to start the turkey in a roaster and hope the power comes back on soon?

Option C it was.

Within minutes, the turkey was cooking in a roaster in the garage via a generator. Right on time. The power ended up coming back on around 6 am, so we did the right thing by not disrupting everyone's plans.

I brought the turkey in and checked the temp, and holy cow, this thing was at 100 degrees already! It was still six hours until lunchtime. I did a bit of quick research and turkeys cook much faster in a roaster than in an oven. Who knew?

Go back into panic mode? Nah, I just turned the temp down to 300 and moved lunch to 11 am (an hour ahead of schedule!). Everyone was coming early anyway, and the turkey turned out amazing.

Removing stress from your life is a mindset. Pressure will come when least expected, but don’t let it control you.

What are you doing to handle unexpected stress?

Gary Butterfield

Gary has over 25 years of management and leadership experience in the service industry. During this time, his focus was team training and development, and Gary has successfully helped numerous cohorts transform into business professionals. Most recently, he served a St. Louis-based SaaS company where he was part of the customer experience team. He coached investors, helping them strategize on how to best use the software as a powerful tool to scale their business and organize their company systems.

Gary is a Certified Digital Marketer by the Digital Marketing Institute and a Professional Certified Marketer by the American Marketing Association.