It’s a horrible feeling. Usually we feel that the stress of panic is being thrust upon us. Something or someone else is causing our panic. But how much of panic is a matter of our own choice?
I remember starting a new job that was very challenging. There were computer screens everywhere and a steady stream of information that I was supposed to be reviewing and analyzing. It was all very intimidating.
I was being trained by a young man who was very good at the job, and very relaxed and funny. The complicated nature of the job didn’t seem to faze him at all. He seemed like a genius as he juggled the telephones, barked technical jargon and moved quickly from computer to computer.
I wanted to be able to do the job and make it seem as important as this other guy did. I wanted to seem to be in control of all that technology. I wanted to make a good impression on my employer, so I was always on the edge of my seat, trying to be as busy as I could be.
So there I was, frantically writing, scanning the data, reviewing procedures. Then the phones started ringing and I needed to convey correct data and information to the counterparties on the other end. Soon I was the center of mass confusion. I was floundering. I needed help.
It was then that I heard laughter from the man who was supposed to be training me.
“Why are you making this so hard?”
I turned on my trainer with anger. I felt like I was righteous in my efforts to do everything right.
“Why aren’t you telling me what to do? Why aren’t you helping me?”
“Okay, I’ll give you a hint. Choose easy.”
Choose easy? What the heck does that mean?
“Yes, choose easy! You’re trying to make this too hard! Who are you trying to impress?”
Choose easy. Sounds too simple. How do I choose easy?
“Just stop and think about what exactly it is that you’re trying to accomplish, and choose the easiest path to your goal.”
I was stunned.
“What do you have to gain by choosing the hardest path to your goal?”
I’ve frequently asked myself that question many times in the years since that panicky day. Do I try too hard to make things appear difficult so that I will appear to be hard working and capable?
It’s more productive.