LEADERSHIP AND STRESS
by Tom Plonski
Can you imagine a person trying to run for president of the United States if that person could not successfully deal with stress?
Good leadership requires being able to successfully handle stress.
When we examine the job description of the presidency we see that it requires a person who can make good decisions in a timely manner. The president is the decision maker. He only makes the decisions but he doesn't carry them out. He decides what must be done and who will do it. The task of carrying out the decision falls to someone else.
How does a person become a leader. He must become recognized as a person who makes good decisions in a timely manner regardless of the stress level he is under.
All decisions result in consequences. There are always consequences to decisions. Sometimes the consequences were not those expected. But in the final analysis we know if the decision was good or bad by judging the consequences.
How does a leader lose his position of leadership? The answer is simple: he makes bad decisions.
In America the highest paying positions are those where the decisions are being made. In the work place, the person who has the duty to make the most important decisions will be the person who gets the highest pay.
Some stress is required in order to become strong. Increasing stress levels are required to grow in strength. This is true in weight lifting for example. But there are subtler applications. When the first Astro nauts returned from long journeys in space, they were so weak they could not even stand without help. They had lost muscle mass and they had even lost a big amount of bone mass. Without stress in our lives we become weaklings. Without the stress of earth's gravity we would not even have any bones. Bone mass and bone strength are there as a way to deal with the stress of gravity.
In weight training, we must be careful. The heaviness of the weights must be increased gradually. If we raise the stress level too soon, we can do the body injury. So it is with decision-making skills. Little children should not be given too many responsibilities too quickly. Their responsibilites should rise with their decision-making skills. By the same token, if we never challenge children to rise to a higher level, they will remain childlike. Do you know any adults who still have the decision-making skills of a child. I personally know adults who have "never grown up."
At Tom Plonski Christian School we are preparing our students to be successful leaders as adults. They will need to be able to make strong, good decisions. And they will need to be able to do so regardless of their temporary or long-term stress level.
At Tom Plonski Christian School we know that in real life many times decisions have to be made while under stress. While under stress it is very likely we will make impulsive decisions which turn out to be wrong. The mental steps required in order to make clear-thinking decisions are: gather data, compare, analyze, evaluate, and organize. But many times, we become impatient and do not want to go through the steps required by clear-thinking decision making. Instead we make our decisions based on our feelings. This is when we get into trouble. Our feelings are very changeable and cannot be trusted as the source of our decision making. Our feelings are part of our animal nature. Our feelings have no conscience. Many times our animal instincts and feelings will cause us do decide to do something that is just plain wrong. We cannot trust decisions made on impulsive feelings. That is why we have "Thou shalt not ...". We must learn to make decisions based on right or wrong instead of only making our decisions based on feelings.
Our main purpose for having an education is to give people the tools they will need to make good decisions in life circumstances. So at Tom Plonski Christian School we do not go out of our way to remove all stress from the students. Quite the contrary we structure situations and problems so as to build the student's attention span and his calm clear thinking even while under stress. Any one who has taken the complete Plonski Math Methods course knows that we deliberately keep raising the stress levels. One of our guides to the students at times of stress is: "If any adult at our school tells you to do something that is not immoral, illegal, or dangerous, then we expect the student to do it." The student can discuss the task LATER, but at the present moment and under the present stress, we usually expect the student to get himself under emotional control and perform the task.
We firmly believe that it is a mistake to try to shelter students from all stress. When we take charge, shelter them from all stress, and solve all their life-situation problems for them, we are depriving them of a growth opportunity.
For more information about Tom Plonski Christian School or the Plonski Math Method go to www.TomPlonski.com
I invite you to read the other pages of my Happiness Essays. I hope they will help you to become the happiest person you can be.
Last modified: May 13, 2011