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Bring on the Stress!

Bring on the Stress!

Sep 2014

Setting off on the adventure of a lifetime! Six months with four small kids in a caravan. It reminds me of jumping into the implementation phase of a new project. After months of planning and anticipation, all potential risks mitigated and opportunities identified, the reality was not as I envisaged.

Our first week was a blurred collection of stressful moments. Would I remember how to prevent the deep cycle battery from being drained when we stop? Does the weight distribution bar come off before or after reversing? Do I use the mains power or the gas to heat up the hot water? To add to this stress is the entertainment and schooling of four kids. How do I encourage our kids to get excited about using a full stop? What is procedural text? What do we do with a three year old while all this schooling is going on?

All my practiced processes, budget (petrol prices in rural Queensland!) and the engagement of my key stakeholders (wife and kids!) were taking a battering. What I had been looking forward to for so long was turning into a road train of anxiety.

It took the birthday of daughter to bring me to the realization of my situation. We were at Rainbow Beach QLD, with wild bush land, miles of massive sand dunes running into pristine waters. We spent the day throwing each other down the dunes, feeding wild dolphins and swimming in the ocean. Then cooking dinner and cake over the camp fire. Yet I was not enjoying this moment.

Often in the middle of projects when the processes don’t quite work, the stakeholders don’t react to the change as planned and it costs more to achieve stage 1 than planned. We don’t enjoy the moment.

In Rainbow Beach I realized I was putting expectations on myself that everything would work seamlessly and we would have the time of our lives.

Like in projects we get anxious. We miss the enjoyment of learning, discovering a better way and the forming strong relationships.

So in Rainbow Beach I chose to ease the expectations. I started writing down my experiences and began sharing them with friends and family. This process reminded me of the amazing experience we were having and to appreciate it before it was over.

Back at work I now try to recognise stress earlier. I try to appreciate the opportunities for interaction and learning. I also communicate much more openly about my day’s events to family and friends. This reminds me of the gift that I have to be able to contribute to people’s lives, even when I may have been able to do it better or the situations weren’t perfect.

Try choosing to appreciate your learning experience and the developing relationships in your current situation. See if your level of stress decreases and the enjoyment of your working life improves. You might find your performance improves too!

At Joseph Consulting we are passionate about empowering leaders so they can make the most of their situations. Please call Joseph Consulting if you would like to discuss how we can provide you specific leadership coaching.


Rod Ellem


Rod Ellem is an Associate Director Physiotherapy with Queensland Health. Recently Rod spent 6 months traveling around Australia with his young family (wife and 4 kids), leaving the pressures of Clinical and Leadership roles behind. This opportunity has given him a chance to think clearly without all the ‘noise’ of life. Each week of the trip he distilled his experience into one lesson that form the basis of these blogs. These lessons and insights can be applied to all areas of business/career/family.

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