My meeting with the office floor

There’s not much buildup to this story.

I fell on my butt on the office floor. plain and simple.

You know that out-of-body feeling where you can almost see yourself falling, there’s nothing to grab or catch, your feet have completely left the ground, and you realize mid air that you’re going down?

Yeh, that happened. And yes, you can laugh.

Am I surprised that this happened? No. not really. And I don’t think me walking around hastily in heels was really the cause. If I am to be honest, I was particularly antsy that day. And I knew I shouldn’t have been, the stakes weren’t nearly as high as other situations I have been in at work, but I had put an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself to perform in this instance.

We all know those “strengths” that we throw all over our resumes and recite in interviews. I see “performs well under pressure” as a sort of “aspirational strength”. The one you claim, but yet are always striving to achieve: Can I continue to do this well? Can I continue to think calmly and rationally in tense, time sensitive situations? Can I meet this deadline when work isn’t the only thing on my mind – when my thoughts are plagued by other issues outside the office that garner my attention? (see Rebecca’s post on Balance: Making Space)

What do you do when you need to get something done and your nerves are firing up?

As I said, on this particular day, I didn’t think my nerves were warranted – it was a simple project in comparison to others I have done. But there I was, still nervous.

So because hindsight is 20/20, I’m taking the moment now to reflect on how I ended up on the office floor. I’m working on developing my strategies for figuring out how to keep those nerves at bay in truly stressful situations at work. Because it’s easy to say to yourself “don’t be nervous” – but what’s your next step when you still are?

As annoying and embarrassing as it was to fall crashing onto the office floor. It forced me to look at, and re-frame the situation. I wasn’t anywhere closer to where I needed to be, and it was clear to me my nerves were getting in the way, when the product needed to get out the door that day. I was less productive, and less careful.

It’s quite difficult to coach yourself in the middle of those situations, especially if you’re trying to meet a deadline – because you just “don’t have the time”. But after my meeting with the floor, I realized that I was doing myself and my work a disservice.

So I took a few minutes to breathe and to pray. Just a few. Some may opt to meditate, take a few deep breaths or maybe just take a quick walk down the office hall. The point is to take a moment to re-focus – however you’re best able to. I found those few minutes did a lot to allow me to calm myself.

And with that little bit of calm I gained from those few moments, I could look at the situation with fresh eyes. I was still antsy, and the work still needed to be done. But I could also distinguish a bit more between the pressures of the situation, and the pressures I put on myself. The pressure I put on myself was only compounding the pressure of the situation. I needed to focus more on all the steps I could take to meet the deadline, as opposed to telling myself – I just need to meet the deadline.

The difference between those two trains of thought is quite surprising.

All of a sudden accepting my limitations allowed me to focus on developing tangible steps within the parameters of my situation. I was now finding solutions geared towards the situation, as opposed to setting a forced benchmark for myself, with no framework, and no foundation.

I think this is the switch we have to have to figure out how to flick in each of those “hot” situations where the pressures in the work environment kick in. Somehow in that moment we need to focus on the problem, and less about the ideal that the outcome of the problem is sole validation of our strengths and our abilities. I think, with that, the angst can subside, and we can focus more on getting the task at hand done.


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