Lighthouse or Blackhole?

I read a great article in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago by David Brooks: The Epidemic of Worry

It got me thinking about the effect of worry and complaining in the workplace. Both can spread like a virus and both are counterproductive.

My favorite quote from the article: “Worry alters the atmosphere of the mind. It shrinks your awareness of the present and your ability to enjoy what’s around you right now. It cycles possible bad futures around in your head and forces you to live in dreadful future scenarios, 90 percent of which will never come true.” (From: David Brooks, The New York Times.)

It’s true that most of what people worry about hasn’t happened or never happens. Or in the simple words of Harper Lee: “It's not time to worry yet” from To Kill a Mockingbird.

A friend of mine worked for a manager who complained constantly. The manager finally wore himself out and resigned. The work still got done and will continue to get done. The job was in television production, so the nature of it is last minute changes and constant pressure. If working in a field with those requirements, accept it, roll with it, and have a sense of humor. Otherwise, you are going to drive yourself and the people around you nuts. And the funny thing is, if you just act positive, you will feel that way. If you are managing assistants, you will make them better workers. If you are an assistant, you will inspire confidence.

The best bosses I’ve ever had were calm, self-assured and generally positive. And I’m sure their superiors admired these qualities and came to the conclusion they could think straight under pressure because they weren’t nervous Nellies. When I’ve supervised others, I’ve always striven to be calm and positive because I know myself that a superior’s negativity gives me brain freeze.

In his book “Worrying”,

Francis O’Gorman notes how quickly the good kind of anxiety can slide into the dark kind. Worry, like drama, is all about the self. As O’Gorman puts it, the worrier is the opposite of a lighthouse: “He doesn’t give out energy for the benefit of others. He absorbs energy at others’ cost.”

One thing you want your employees to have is energy for their work. You don’t want them expending energy on worry. So be a lighthouse today and see the positive in things and people around you. It won’t only make you feel better, it might actually be profitable.