Making Anxiety Work for You


Harnessing Anxiety for High Achievement

by Leah Moon, Consultant and Executive Coach with Parrish Partners

As a high achiever in the workplace – whether you are a managing director in a corporate setting or an entrepreneur who has built a business – there is a high likelihood that a healthy dose of anxiety was a key ingredient in achieving your goals.  That anxiety tapped into the adrenaline needed to perfect a presentation to investors, the focus to win over a major client, or the passion to paint the vision for the company or your team.

What I have just illustrated is anxiety working at its best.  However, at its worst it can manifest in feelings of nervousness, increased heart rate, an inability to problem solve, or even completely freezing during key moments on the job.  But there are ways for anxiety to remain an asset.

Here are five key steps to harnessing your anxiety for good, instead of allowing it to work against you.

  1. Drop the plural in “priorities” and focus on a singular priority.  Prioritization requires that some things are more important than others. Being intentional and thoughtful will help you determine which value or action is paramount, sometimes referred to as one’s “true-north.”  While your true-north value in life may stay constant for long periods; your true-north action items will likely change throughout your life and career.
  2. Stop obsessing. Sometimes psychologists refer to this as ruminating – that is, going over and over (and over) the same thoughts, typically negative, on a loop.  This behavior is also labeled a “racing mind”- one’s mind keeps rapidly repeating the same, repetitious thinking.  Recognize that you are obsessing; develop and stick to a plan with action steps to break the redundant cycle.  Better yet: return to your “true-north” priority to ground you.
  3. Build resiliency. Practicing certain activities on a continuing, disciplined basis can provide relief from excessive anxiety. Concepts and activities that build resiliency in our brains include mindfulness, meditation, regular exercise, yoga, improving eating habits and taking on a new hobby or area for learning. If you’re wondering what mindfulness is, there is a lot to learn. Simply defined, mindfulness is a self-calming process that requires focusing on the current moment and becoming more aware of your feelings and bodily sensations.
  4. Know when to step back. Your anxiety may be controlling you. Living with excessive anxiety, stress and worry take its toll. You may notice that you are caught in a loop of “busyness” (such as, repeatedly checking your email) or idleness.  Neither of these states is productive.  Hit “pause,” step back, and regroup.
  5. Learn more about yourself. As you regroup, you’re probably wondering: But what does this look like?  Well, for each person it looks different.  For some, it’s drawing a diagram across a whiteboard with your team, while, for others, it’s reaching out to their coach and verbally talking through the thoughts racing through your mind.  Regardless, learning how you process information is the way to shortcut anxiety. The better you know who you are, what you want, and understand how others react to you, the less excessive your anxiety will be. With less anxiety, you will be better able to harness your stress for achievement.

Enacting these five tips is a start.  But if these tips were the master key to success, everyone would be harnessing their anxiety without fail.  This is just the beginning of the process for those who excel.  An accountability coach can help you channel your anxiety into more productive avenues and more effectively practice these five critical steps.  This combination is the edge that will access control over your own anxiety.  At Parrish Partners, we consider your anxiety to be a potential positive – not a hindrance.  Through our customized leadership tools, leadership tools, and one-on-one coaching, we provide uniquely tailored services that meet your true needs and desires.



Copyright Leah Moom 2018.  All rights reserved.