The Human Juke Box


Most people have loads of misguided ideas about stress. Most people believe that if you are actively engaged with life, stress is inevitable. Most people think “life is tough and along with the “good stuff” comes the stress”. The common belief that people have to cope with in life assumes that life is inherently stressful.

Retirement is that wonderful time when people finally get rid of their stress and “really start living”. Yet, ┬ámany companies offer their prospective retirees seminars on coping with retirement stress!

Most people believe that the source of stress is “out there” in the circumstances, events and actions of other people that happen to be in their way. There is work stress caused by job duties and supervisors, relationship stress causes by partners and children. Post traumatic stress causes by traumatic events.

The list of stressors gets longer every year. A recent addition -seasonal affective disorder or SAD – stress causes by gloomy weather!

It’s as if there are little stress particles attached to “stuff out there”. If you get to close they stick to you and ZAP.. you’re stressed. Psychologists have developed scales on which you get “stress points” for during life events like a job change, a new mortgage or a divorce. The more stress points you accumulate, the likely you are to get sick or have an accident in the future.

Most people believe these misguided ideas about stress and most mornings wake up in a “stressful” world.

What we fail to see is that stress cannot get from “out there” to “in here”. What we fail to see is that the root cause of stress is our own thinking, thought, that is causing the experience of stress.

Ownership, as I teach it, means seeing at a deep level that everything happens inside and nothing happens outside. When you really see this at a deep level you stop blaming circumstances, other people and events for how you feel.

And when that happens your mind clears and wonderful things like freedom, clarity of mind, connection, natural leadership and well being shows up. Naturally, because we are all mentally healthy. No exceptions.

You’re like a juke box. You walk around having a great time, somebody says something and BOOM, you feel a storm of emotions coming up. Just like pressing a button on a juke box and a certain song starts playing. It’s not the circumstance that made you feel unworthy, it’s the remembered emotion that came up, the button that got pushed.

The problem arises when you start to blame the circumstance for your emotions. That’s where I see leaders get stuck with their teams. Where I see companies stop innovating, where I see relationships fall apart.

The solution is simple. Instead of reaction to another persons emotional reaction and creating a downward spiral, see it for what it is. A remembered emotional reaction from the past that is triggered. It has NOTHING to do with what is happening in the moment. That is what I call empathy. That is what creates trust. And trust creates great teams and great companies.

It’s THAT simple, but not easy.