STRESS: It’s Your Choice

learn how to stay calm and avoid stress, no matter how busy life getsAfter speaking all day yesterday in Brussels, and having a grand experience with the participants in my program for the Institute of Management Studies, I was tired. It takes a lot to stand on your feet and speak for 8 hours … hopefully educating, motivating, and entertaining the audience the entire time.

At 10 p.m. I flew to London where I would be speaking in two days. I arrived at Heathrow Airport and immediately went to the ATM to get some cash. Unfortunately, none of the ATMs were working. So I had no cash whatsoever, which is an uncomfortable feeling. Stress? Possibly.

But I had credit cards. I bought a train ticket to central London and the RAF (Royal Air Force Club) where I would be staying.

It was midnight when I arrived at the RAF Club … where all the front desk clerks were baffled. They looked at my confirmation number and couldn’t find a room reserved for me. After some time they discovered my reservations were for November 5 and 6, 2014 … not 2013. And they were fully booked. Not one single room in the Club was available. More stress? Possibly.

The clerk, however. was sympathetic. He said he would do his best to find me a room somewhere. An hour later he found a room. It was now 1 a.m. and I was glad to be heading to a bed.

I got in the taxi, and as he pulled away, I remembered my lack of cash. He said he didn’t take credit cards. More stress at 1:30 a.m.? Possibly.

I offered to get out and walk, but the cabbie was nice enough to drive me to three different ATMs, all of which did not work. My card was not authorized for overseas’ withdrawals. More stress? Could be. After all, I’m supposed to travel and work throughout the U.K. and not have access to any cash?

Thinking quickly. I told the cabbie I could give him American dollars. I had some of those with me. He shook his head, looking doubtful, and said he didn’t know how to make the conversion. I knew a British pound costs about $1.65 so I offered to pay him double the taxi fare in dollars to take me to my hotel. He agreed. I guess those negotiation skills I learned years ago paid off.

The good news was I got to my hotel and into my room about 2:00 a.m. The great news was my reaction. I was totally at peace and without stress the entire evening. I never got upset, angry, frustrated, worried or any of that.

I was actually delighted to see that the stress-management skills I teach REALLY work. Stress to a large extent is a choice YOU make. You can get all hot and bothered about something, or you can decide to stay calm and in control.

Over the years I’ve flown about 4 million miles, and I’ve seen hundreds of travelers screaming at airline desk agents, hotel desk clerks, taxi drivers, and the like. All them over-the-edge stressed out. And I know I don’t want to be one of “those” people.

The next time life hands you a boatload of stress, refrain from simply reacting to the stress, CHOOSE your response very carefully. It will be good for you … very good.