When I was a kid, if I was anxious about an event or activity, my Dad would tell me to “relax but concentrate.”  It’s only now that I fully appreciate what great advice that was and finally understand that relaxation and focus are not mutually exclusive.  What a great mantra to remember in the workplace.  Relax but concentrate.

Lately, it’s been so busy at work that I’ve forgotten my Dad’s wisdom and allowed myself to be swept along by events.  I believe in such a thing as “good stress” that can keep me motivated and going, but lately I’ve tipped into “bad stress” that demotivates me and blurs my focus.  When I am in that bad stress mode, I’ve noticed that I start adding more stress into situations and into the lives of those around me.   As the bad stress escalates to a feeling of overwhelm, I start thinking about escaping, getting out of there so that I can finally relax.  How many of us wait to relax until we are finished working, as if work and relaxation are mutually exclusive?  Imagine how wonderful it would feel to be able to really relax at work!

I’m not suggesting losing focus or slacking off.  I’m suggesting, like my Dad, that we can relax but concentrate.  When I relax at work, I actually perform at a higher level, make better, less reactive decisions, and have a positive impact on my colleagues.  Likewise, I’ve noticed that my colleagues who approach challenging projects in a relaxed way have a tremendously positive impact on me.  Something I may have been dreading in my mind can be transformed into something possible and creative simply by being around a colleague who is genuinely cool, calm, and collected.  Moreover, I actually find myself having fun at work.  Relaxing in the chaos of daily work creates tremendous space and breathing room.  When I look at my professional challenges from a place of relaxation, everything seems workable instead of overwhelming.  Relaxing brings my priorities into focus.  It actually improves my concentration.

Easier said than done, right?  True, but transforming our experience at work requires intention.  I’m going to start by trying my Dad’s mantra and telling myself to “relax but concentrate.”  I hope you will try it, too.