be the duck.

yesterday was undoubtedly the worst. i felt low. saddled with a morning & afternoon full of tension and annoyances, my high hopes for the day vaporized. i had woken early, floated into the office looking forward to the unseasonably warm forecast, focused on making good progress, excited for the sunshine that would be waiting for me at my desk. things of course, did not pan out as planned.

chin up, buttercup. bad days happen to everyone. practice being upset, stressed, and overwhelmed and that is what you will be. it is how the people around you will perceive you. as one hot mess.

when days like these come around i am reminded of something my father told me when i first began my career. i was in the process of taking leadership over a high-profile project. i felt nervous, unqualified, and unprepared. i was correct, i wasn’t ready. but that didn’t stop the train from pulling in to my station at 120 mph. in light of my predicament (and i’m sure in part to stop my sobs) my father told me “be the duck”. when you feel stress, panic, and near or fully enveloped in crisis mode, be calm. while you may be paddling fast as you can under the pond surface, not everyone needs to know. above water, be graceful and still. too often, when stress is upon us and the work feels overwhelming and mounting, we act as a Labrador retriever would upon entering a pond. disrupting the serene surface, splashing, making noise, drawing attention. we complain and vent. effective leaders show restraint.

be the duck.

i’m remembering that a professional lady such as myself should take heed of this lesson. externalizing my stress at the workplace isn’t part of a solution. rather, it builds on the problem, drawing attention, judgement, and observations that may not be looked upon so kindly.

yesterday was just another work day. today is a new one. not every day will be full of productivity & positive regard. sometimes, it’s going to be hard and not so fun. but that doesn’t mean that progress can’t be made, that problems can’t be solved, that i can’t use a day like yesterday to work on how i choose to handle stress.

be the duck.

  • Catherine

    I love this. I’m not sure if you have ever seen Oprah’s Master Class on her new network, but it’s highly inspiring. Filled with these types of firsthand “lessons” we learn from the ones we love. Our life is own master “class” — so to speak. I look forward to Sunday nights at 9 PM every week so that I can get a grip — for real. So far, Jane Fonda has spoken about being the daughter of a famous actor and her struggles with self-image (hence the 80′s fitness VHS movement that she spawned), Morgan Freeman has talked about his lifetime spent trying to “get seen” and his big break that occured at the age of 50, and Ted Turner shared lessons about his creation of 24/7 news with the development of CNN (and the millions of dollars that came afterward.) Everyone has a unique story to tell about their perserverence and subsequent success.

    It’s one the best shows I’ve ever seen and it inspires me to take a deep breath and appreciate my own lessons I’ve learned through the “first act” of my life. Looks like you are already doing so! Love the wise words of good ol’ Mar.

    • leanerbythelake

      oh i really love the idea of that show. i’ll have to tell A about it and check it out! that’s really down his alley as well. have you ever watched TED talks? you should check them out!

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