It seems like one of those things that should be so simple to avoid or combat, yet it still has a way of sneaking up and snatching our peace of mind away -- especially in our ever-connected culture.
As I spent more time this week ruminating on Headline Stress Disorder while also, ironically, trying to stay up with the headlines ...
I had an epiphany of sorts.
I realized that one of the reasons I feel overwhelmed and anxious as the concerning headlines pile up is because I naturally feel powerless to affect change on the circumstances underlying most of the troubling headlines.
- I'm not a healthcare worker or policy maker, so how can I make a difference with COVID-19?
- I'm not a historian, community organizer, or politician, so how can I impact the discussion about race and equality?
- I'm not a political strategist, pollster, or campaign worker, so how can I impact elections or the election process?
And on and on, applied to different times and different situations.
Right now, it just feels like there are so many big, consequential national discussions going on, and it's easy to feel more at the mercy of these discussions than an active participant in them.
Do you ever feel like that?
A 2017 study at Concordia University found that "the fear of losing control" can play an important role in the onset of a host of anxiety disorders:
"We hypothesize that people's fears and beliefs about losing control may put them at risk for a range of problems, including panic disorder, social phobia, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and others."
Granted, I don't want to overstate the issue. We shouldn't conflate mild anxiety from the news, real as it may be, with potentially serious conditions like panic disorder and PTSD.
But I sure would like to reduce any of my own anxiety as much as possible, and I have no doubts you feel the same.
Fortunately, my epiphany had a second part ...
While I realized that anxiety can flow from a feeling of powerlessness to change the world, the real problem is framing it like that in the first place.
I don't need to change the world. I can't change the world. And that's okay.
What I can change is my world.
And if we distill the news through that prism, and in the process figure out ways to take relevant actions, then our anxiety about the news will melt away -- because now we're back in control.
- We can wear a mask and stay committed to social distancing to set a positive example.
- We can study issues of racial inequality and help to share and amplify informed voices on the subject.
- We can donate to campaigns, contact our congresspeople, and make sure we stay informed and vote.
And on an on.
We may not be able to change the world, but I can impact our worlds.
Another way that we all can impact our worlds is by contributing our time to think and share thoughtful ideas.
To be clear: I'm not saying that everyone should jump on social media and spout out every half-baked idea that pops into their head.
But what I am saying is that we each have a unique set of personal experiences, perspectives, knowledge, and values that we bring to any situation or topic. And we also time, energy, and enthusiasm that we can lend to any cause that concerns or motivates us.
So we should not underestimate the value of setting aside time to think and develop ideas during difficult times.
- Can you summarize some relevant element of history that will educate the people in your circle of influence?
- Can you sift through the morass of resources available on any topic to curate a list of trusted resources people can trust?
- Can you develop a strategy or plan of action for how your family or team can address a disruption or change of path?
No, you may not be working on a presidential address or developing a policy that will affect millions, but you will be making an impact on the circle of people you have the ability to influence ...
If, that is, you're willing to take one very important next step:
Share your ideas.
Not only will sharing your ideas impact those you share with and spawn important conversations, but the interaction with others' thoughts and perspectives will help you refine and strengthen your ideas further.
This is how you make a difference in your corner of the world.
And right now, it feels like we need as many people with this mindset as possible.
The more you feel like an agent for positive change even among a small group of people, the less you'll feel like an impotent spectator as the world plays out around you.
In this week's THINKERS Roundup, you'll find three links about how being willing to share your ideas can help you become a much-needed agent for change.
First, here is a quick roundup from inside the THINKERS Workshop ...
Brian is going to join us to share his thoughts on how to think clearly and make good decisions during a crisis. He has a lot of recent experience in this area, helping to navigate his company through an expansion during the COVID-19 shutdown and enduring impact.
We also launched a new video series. It's called I Am A THINKER, and will feature members of the THINKERS Workshop community providing their perspectives and best practices on how to become a better thinker.
Our first subject: THINKERS founder Sean Jackson.
Sharing can benefit you as much as those you share with
The key to make your life really unique and worthwhile is to share what you know, because sharing has a certain unique magic of its own.
If you share an idea with 10 different people, they get to hear it once and you get to hear it 10 times—getting you even better prepared for the future. Share ideas with your family, with the people around you, with other employees, with your colleagues.
If you share with someone else, they could be transformed. You may have dropped in at the right time—this may be their moment, the moment the door will open and there’s opportunity they never saw before.
Related: How Do You Attract Opportunity Into Your Life?
But here’s what else is exciting: The person who speaks could be transformed, too. Because guess what, we’re all looking for transformation for our new life—the new life tomorrow, this month, this year, next year.
Read: Rohn: The Power of Sharing What You Know (Success)
Sharing at work helps all boats rise together
One person can never have an idea that’s perfect. By sharing my ideas at work I am exposed to a side I may have never thought of before. New and better things come out of sharing ideas with others.
Think about a subject matter expert who doesn’t make their knowledge available to others unless forced and then it’s a one way road. They spew information as others record it.
This way of working never lets you connect your ideas with others and improve upon both ideas. There’s no way one brain can think of every angle, so everybody has to cooperate and work together to reach a common larger goal. The human race is a cooperative race and its allowed us to do great things.
Sitting on an idea like you own it has never helped anybody meet a greater goal.
Read: What Sharing Ideas At Work Does For Us (Nick Leffler)
What if you organized an event outside of work to encourage sharing?
What follows is a blueprint for how to push yourself, and how to encourage and enable others around you to do this by organising a “Show Your Work” event in your company or community.
The colleagues you spend so much time with every single day — do you actually know about all the amazing and weird things they’re creating in their free time? Even in the best companies with great working cultures, things get busy. We end up spending most of our time talking about work-related problems. Or, not talking at all.
Not only do we end up having fairly shallow relations with most of our colleagues, but creativity and inspiration often fall short as well.
Read: The Power of Sharing Your Creative Process (Better Humans)
“I believe that the greatest crime is to learn something that can significantly benefit other people, yet share it with no one"
-- Mike Pettigrew