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Scott Taylor

Superintendent , Kenilworth Public School District

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Stress is the bane of a leader's existence

In an August 4, 2013 USA Today article, Deepak Chopra, the 66-year-old holistic health promoter and prolific author, says he never feels stress. He's never had surgery and he's never been hospitalized. The trick? According to the article, Chopra wakes up at 4 a.m. daily and meditates for two hours. Then, he writes for an hour before going to the gym.

I am not Deepak Chopra. I don't mediate, and I don't write for an hour before the gym. My trick? I used to let stress get the best of me when I was an inexperienced leader because I didn't realize my problems would be resolved without doing too much harm as long as I considered them thoughtfully and with great care. In time, the repetition of tackling problems and solving them (successfully or otherwise) conditioned me to realize everything will work out in some way, and I will still survive.

I've gotten get better dealing with stress over time because I've learned from my experiences that everything will work out no matter what, even if the outcome isnt necessarily positive. The bad results will likely not knock you out for the count, and the good results will positively reinforce the effective approaches to resolving problems.

Some leaders have the ability to figure out their confidence early on. I am not one of those leaders. It took me years to realize problems will work themselves out if I consider them patiently and thoughtfully. It is only recently that my body has positively adjusted to my new way of thinking. I don't stress as much over the hot-button issues like I used to. I have come to realize that everything will work out in the end.

"Sometimes when people are under stress, they hate to think, and it's the time when they most need to think" (President Bill Clinton).

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    Aug 8 2013: Great words! I agree that life and experience bring us tools to lead with stress. Neither alcohol, drugs, tobacco, can slow down your stress, that's an illusion. Only learning trough experience can make you adapt. I think Darwin will agree, and also Lamark. It's a mix match of environment changes, genetic heritage and learning. Only one cannot be changed, genetics, but we can deal with it, and deal with stress.
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      Aug 8 2013: I just wish my "stress learning curve" wasn't so steep. It took my roughly 20 years of experience to figure out how to manage my stress!

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