I write this post aboard a cruise ship merely minutes after disembarking and already the cruise director is imploring all guests to, “Leave their worries behind and have a FUN time!” This is easy to do while on vacation sailing the Caribbean seas, but challenging to do during our habitual professional and personal lives.
Dale Carnegie said, “If you want to avoid worry…live in “day-tight compartments. Just live each day until bedtime.” Let’s apply this tried and true technique on a common challenge many professionals face—a presentation to a large audience.
Taylor is the head of R&D at a technology company and has led a team that developed cutting-edge software. The program enables remote users to provide real-time feedback that is immediately aggregated, and statistics calculated, so that all virtual meeting participants can view the results. The software was completed on time, under budget and built exactly to specifications. So why is Taylor so worried about unveiling this new software to the entire company at their year-end meeting?
- Instead of tossing and turning all night, Taylor can apply Dale Carnegie’s formula for How to face trouble:
- Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” Taylor’s PowerPoint presentation is perfect—it is concise, creative and contains the most important aspects of the new software from users’ perspectives. The worst that could possibly happen is that she could stutter, trip and fall or worse of all—she could completely freeze in front of her audience.
- Prepare to accept the worst. After considering this, Taylor prepares to accept the worst. If she were to freeze in silence, she could easily turn to the introduction slide and read it verbatim to the audience. Acknowledging this means that even though Taylor may draw a blank, she has a back-up plan of literally reading her slides.
- Try to improve on the worst. In her heart, Taylor hopes that the presentation will be powerful and accepts that there is a chance she might freeze in front of her audience. Instead of stewing about it further and stymying sleep, she ponders how she could improve on this worst-case scenario. She decides that she could say, “Pardon me; I just had an aha moment—had the software been available to everyone in the audience and our off-site participants, we could have viewed your feedback on each slide in real-time to truly demonstrate how remarkable this tool is!” With that back-up statement in mind, Taylor turned over and fell asleep.
- Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health. Worry often manifests in the form of insomnia which plagues an estimated 50-70 million US adults1. Moreover, sleep insufficiency is linked to automobile accidents, industrial disasters, etc.
The next time you worry, apply this method for living in day-tight compartments. By focusing on the task at hand instead of stewing about the future, you will set your worries sailing.