Stress Management and Mastery: 3 Steps to Loving What You Do

My first real job (schedule, time clock, paycheck, boss) was as a bag boy with a chain grocery store in Winter Park, Fla. I had worked before, cutting lawns, etc., and thought I knew about working hard. I remember asking my supervisor if it was against company policy to collapse on the job on the first day.

While certainly a noble pursuit, I soon learned that bagging groceries was not my dream job.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have my dream job. Saying that I counsel/coach, speak and write really oversimplifies all that I do, but I can tell you this:

While there really are no bad days, the absolute worst day doing what I do is still better than the best day doing anything else I've ever done.

From my experience working with clients in hundreds of different jobs, here are three tips for success on the first day, and all days, of a new job:

1. Learn from the person in the position before you

OPE, Other People's Experience, is a valuable resource to help you reduce the length of the learning curve in a new job. This is especially true when the person before you has done a great job. The really good news here is that success almost always leaves clues, a trail you can follow and from which you can learn. So, study what your predecessor did to be successful. Some questions to pay attention to are:

? How did they make it work?

? What were their unique gifts?

? What can you do the same?

? What can you do differently?

Another way to discover what the person that went before you did to be successful is to simply ask them. Yep, that's right, ask them. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not make you look as if you do not know what you are doing. The reality is asking makes you look both humble and wise enough to ask good questions. You have to A-S-K to G-E-T. You do not have to reinvent the wheel or make it up as you go along. And not only does it make you look teachable and smart enough to ask but it also honors the other person.

2. Learn all you can about what you are doing

I really admire how my father-in-law makes major purchases. When he is getting ready to spend some money, John becomes an expert in that area. He reads and studies all he can, questions lots of experts and winds up making the best decision more often than not.

Become an eager and continuous student of what you are doing. I've been in private practice for almost 20 years and in this field in some way for 27 years. I still want to be better than I was yesterday, in part because just when I get cocky enough to believe I have seen it all, God sends me something unique to keep me humble. The other reason is that the older I get and the longer I am at this, the more I realize how very much there is that I do not know or even have a clue about. The seasoned professional, the craftsman or craftswoman, is always learning.

3. Make it your own

One of the best ways to be successful in any endeavor is to make it your own. Put your own stamp on it. Barbara Glanz is the author of CARE Packages for the Workplace and a professional speaker specializing in motivating employees. She calls it putting your personal signature on your work.

Barbara tells the story of a young man named Johnny with Downs Syndrome. Johnny worked as a bag boy in a grocery store and was in the audience when Barbara spoke at a meeting on the importance of putting your personal signature on your work. Johnny heard and ran with the idea; he began to include his own "thought for the day" typed on a small sheet of paper and placed in one of the grocery bags of customers that went through his line. It was not long before the line where Johnny was bagging would regularly back up because people wanted his thought for the day.

I first heard this story almost 10 years ago. I understand that Barbara and Ken Blanchard of "One Minute Manager" fame are coming out soon with a new book titled "The Simple Truths of Service - Inspired by Johnny the Bagger." You can check it out at

If Johnny the Bagger with Downs Syndrome can do it, what in the world is stopping you and me?

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