Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Association Executives: Our Words Influence Our Attitudes and Our Staff Leadership

In the year before I was fired as an association executive (back in 1992), my initial response to callers who asked “how are you doing?” was “hangin’ in there.”

In retrospect, I realize that the phrase “hangin’ in there” represented a negative signal from the No. 2 exec in the organization. And, those simple words passed along an attitude to volunteers and staff.

I thought about this as I read Jenna Goudreau’s recent post in Forbes about 12 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work

Before reading her post, I mused that stress is self induced. Sort of like my “hangin’ in there” conveyed an attitude to my callers.

As I reviewed her 12 points; however, I decided most are good:
  1. Act Rather Than React
  2. Take A Deep Breath
  3. Eliminate Interruptions
  4. Schedule Your Day For Energy And Focus
  5. Eat Right And Sleep Well
  6. Change Your Story
  7. Cool Down Quickly
  8. Identify Self-Imposed Stress
  9. Prioritize Your Priorities
  10. Reset The Panic Button
  11. Influence Others
  12. Be Your Own Best Critic
Since replacing “hangin’ in there” with “awesome” or “great,” my attitude was better and those around me felt better too!

And, as I reflect on my time on the hot seat, I think back to Peggy Lee’s song Is That All There Is that was popular when I was going through basic training in the Army in 1970: 

The refrain after a series of maladies (for us Army folks, we inserted, PT, rifle range, etc.), she sang her “is that all there is” chorus:

      Is that all there is, is that all there is

      If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
      Let's break out the booze and have a ball
      If that's all there is

So, if your association is going through rough times or your boss is sharing some stress or a project seems impossible, remember that your words impact your stress level and just quietly sing or say “is that all there is?”

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