Life, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, and all other roles and vocations we have are hard. There is stress. It can not be avoided, only managed. It can not be ignored, only admitted. Stress is physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally harmful. If not managed well, it can eventually kill you. I am a keynote speaker, business, life and leadership coach; I train and counsel leaders, entrepreneurs and people from all over the world. One of the top questions I receive is, “I am so busy and stressed. How do I handle this?” Before I share 6 simple steps tips to stay calm as a cucumber under stress, let me share a story about a time I caught a man who had keyed my car in the parking lot.
Talk about stress! Sunday, January 18th, 2015, was the end of a four day keynote speaking tour. I was exhausted, having spent the last 4 days traveling and sharing my message (Plant Your Flag: The Warrior’s Battle Guide to Life, Love and Leadership) in Las Vegas and Denver 9 times. Encouraging, inspiring and pouring my message into people is my life’s mission and purpose, and it is a physically and emotionally draining one. I spent Saturday and Sunday standing at the Denver Convention Center for the Denver Franchise Expo. I finally packed up my booth and walked to the parking lot where I had left my car earlier that morning, ready to go home and enjoy some much needed family time. I had recently purchased a new-to-me car a few weeks earlier, which my wife nicknamed ‘Little Blue’, and it was my new baby. The second I approached my car, I noticed the big truck parked to the right of my car had moved over about a foot from where it was originally parked in the morning. It had been a tight squeeze when I parked that AM, and this truck had been parked right on the passenger side line next to my car. I went to open the passenger side door, and saw a nice, fresh, large, not accidental, aggressive and hateful key mark on Little Blue.
To make the long story short about how I knew the man in the truck did it, let’s just say that there was more evidence than when my daughter steals a cookie from the pantry, eats it, has chocolate all over her face, and then says she did not touch it. I knew the driver of the truck did it, and I encountered him in the parking lot as he was leaving. I approached him, confronted him, and through all this stress (as well as the possible desire I may have had to practice my Jiu Jitsu on him) I stayed calm, handled the situation, and learned some key take away points to share about stress.
(Did I mention I video taped the man who I believe keyed my car as we had our confrontation in the parking lot? Make sure to check it out. Make a comment on this blog on if you think he was lying!)
Here are my tips, advice, and lessons learned regarding how to handle stress, confrontation, and situations that suck!
- Expect it– Stress will happen, confrontation will happen, never tell yourself it will not. Remember, when it happens, not if it happens, expect it. Being prepared is 90% of the battle.
- Step out of the emotion of the stressful situation. I have done, said and acted very stupidly when being in the emotion of a situation. Stepping out and looking at the facts, without a high level of emotion has served me well, and I guarantee will serve you well under stress. Know this it is 100% okay to feel emotional and have an intense emotional thought (I thought about doing a lot of bad things to the guy in this video). Just have the ability to step away from that emotion when the time comes to confront.
- Efficiently evaluate the potential outcomes. When you can do this quickly, as well as be okay with all outcomes and options, there is nothing to worry about. When evaluating outcomes, know that there will be a Best Case and Worst Case Scenario. The outcome will most likely fall in the middle. I knew the three most likely potential outcomes in this confrontation were:
- Lying guy stops lying, admits to keying my car and takes accountability. I am cool with that.
- Lying guy keeps lying and drives away (which he did). I have a $500 deductible, which I quickly earn speaking, coaching and blogging about this situation (which I did). I am cool with that.
- Lying guy gets physical with me in the confrontation and gets choked out (which he almost did, he got a little too close to me at one point). I am cool with that.
- Take a deep breath– Right before I approached this man, I took a long deep breath, reminded myself to stay calm, control my emotion, speak so this man thought he was in control of the situation, never anger, and have fun!
- State Your Warrior Credo-“My purpose on this planet is to lead, encourage, inspire, be a warrior and a visionary to make people’s lives better. I value fight, faith, family, action, accountability, giving, gratitude, love, service, excellence.” In the moments of this man rambling in the video, I was not listening to him, rather stating my warrior credo over and over to myself. This kept me grounded, and kept me and him safe in this situation.
- Keep a safe distance from the dangerous engagement zone- Any stressful situation can quickly turn dangerous to you physically, emotionally and relationally. In this situation, I was well aware there could be a physical encounter and I kept a safe distance. Notice that any time this man approached me past arms reach, I backed away. The few times he got too close, I put my arm out and in a calm voice asked him to back away.
I hope this blog gives you some relief the next time you encounter a stressful situation, confrontation and emotionally charged event. Please leave a comment below, and if you happen to know the guy in the video, send me his address so I can send him a thank you card for keying my car because this video has now inspired a new keynote speaking topic, and maybe even book titled: Keyed Cars: 6 Simple Steps To Stay Calm as Cucumber Under Stress, Emotion and Confrontation.