Dealing with Stress and Death

Even in the darkest times, the sun in all of us can rise to light our hearts if only we get out of our own way. This week has been a long and heavy one, but I got through it with the help of everyone around me. This episode covers how I dealt with stress at work and how the loss of loved ones can bring us even closer together.

Dealing with stress at work

  • The pressure of delivering updates to a three star admiral is not an easy task. You need to be quick and accurate, yet be ready to deal with a “firing squad” feeling and being questioned or corrected on the spot in front of everyone
  • A high point of stress I felt was when I was surrounded with others who were having a good time and I was trying to stay focused in staying in the fight. I almost wanted to lash out at them, but quickly realized that wouldn’t help me to accomplish my task at hand
  • I continue to develop my sense of self-awareness and ability to watch others who are showing signs of stress. This isn’t a complicated skill, you just have to feel compassion for your teammates and take action
  • For those of us who needed to stay in the fight, like a young Intel Lieutenant who was feeling the same pressure as me, we shared some words with each other that we knew were thinking the same thing, so we decided to stay focused and get through this together
  • These stressful times happened during real world ops as well, of which I would take the time to talk with the Lieutenant. I wouldn’t always give him clear answers, but I would share my recommendations to him to figure out on his own and serve as a soundboard for his thoughts. He will get through his own problems as I get through mine, but that doesn’t mean we can’t listen to each other and smile throughout the day
  • Pro-tip: Humor works well to relieve stress. If you can find a moment to laugh a little, the stress doesn’t go away, but it lowers in intensity just enough for you to keep moving

Dealing with death

  • Over my career, I’ve personally dealt with four deaths within the unit and they all had a tremendous impact on my leadership style. If I don’t think about the people I lead first, nothing after that matters. 
  • Leaders always need to be cognizant of the words they choose to share. If there is room for mis-interpretation, take the right action and update them to correctly reflect your intent
  • Why make death a comparison game? Divisiveness is running rampant through our country now, and we need to find more shared ground to have civil discourse. More listening, less talking. More compassion, less comparison. The game of “righteousness” isn’t something to be won over one another during times of loss. Instead, we should look to raise everyone up and re-evaluate what is important because you never know when tragedy can strike
  • Life is life, one is not more important than the other. The most important takeaway during these tragic losses is to be there for each other in times of grief, cherish the memories that remain etched in our minds, and mend our hearts together. This path can be agreed upon by everyone. They may not match each other in action, but they can be driven from the same source of passion and love for one another