Anxiety is a funny thing. It’s not actually a fear in and of itself, it’s a fear of possible bad things. There’s even a lame and overused motivational speaker example of F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) which really speaks to this idea of anxiety. All of us have experienced anxiety at one time or another. Some folks even have a condition that requires medication to deal with this.
But did you know that YOU can be the cause of someone’s anxiety?
As a frequent business traveler, I always feel my stress level increasing before heading to the airport for a flight. It’s not because I’m afraid to fly. It’s because I’m afraid of travel glitches. See, I’ve spent many a night sleeping on an airport floor, made a 14 hour drive because of a flight cancellation, had to cancel or delay a client gig because of an air traffic controller furlough during sequestration, sat on a tarmac for hours, had a rental car with a flat tire, had a hotel give away my room because a flight delay got me in late, and more than a few time had to run like O.J. (there’s an example only geezers like me can relate to) through the airport to make a tight connection. I’ve had some really bad experiences. That’s why I stress out.
The reality though is that 90% of my trips go off without a hitch. Just like the one I’m flying home on right now. Yet all day I was stressing out hoping this afternoon flight would be on time since I have an important presentation tomorrow and can’t miss it.
A few travel disappointments give me regular travel anxiety.
There’s more than enough people to point the blame on. Airlines, weather, etc. I have the anxiety issue, but there are causes and blame to assign to others. Really the blame comes because of broken trust. I trust airlines, rental car companies, and hotels to perform. When trust breaks, anxiety grows. That’s a reality.
Are you the cause of somebody’s anxiety?
Years ago, I worked for an organization where one of our team members routinely called in sick on the Tuesday after a three-day weekend. She’d call early and leave a voicemail in her “sick” voice. I’d usually be in early and would catch the calls. Soon it became an expectation. Before long, we wouldn’t have any meetings or schedule anything that involved her on a Tuesday after a three-day weekend because we were too afraid she would let us down. That sense of anxiety hindered productivity.
The late NFL coach Dennis Green went off on a rant after a comeback loss to the Chicago Bears exclaiming over and over that “the Bears are who we thought they are.” It’s comical and you can view it on YouTube but you can’t help but feel his frustration.
What about you? Would someone say, in a negative way, that “you are who we thought you are?” Does your performance result in anxiety? If so, take some time this week to turn it around. People will tolerate anxiety so long as they have to. I travel for a living so I own my anxiety. Would someone be patient enough to own yours?