Every machine has natural limitations, its individual capacity. When it is stretched beyond its capacity, it will be stressed. Please bear in mind for this talk that the word Stress is meant like stretched to its maximum.
No machine exists that is a whole unit. All machines are a sum of parts. A machine does not get stressed, it is the parts that get stressed. Some parts get stressed in certain situations in which other parts remain within their limitations.
Your mind, company, team or family are all machines in a way just like your vehicle or computer. Even non mechanical items such as software are made up of components that are connected.
Individual parts are in themselves machines made up of smaller parts. Even what may appear to be one single piece of metal or plastic with no other parts within it is in fact still just a sum of parts, atoms and molecules that are deteriorating all the time and are held together by an electromagnetic or gravitational force. No need to get into physics here, but this illustrates the point that nothing is a singular whole.
For any machine to function, its parts must function. If the parts are stressed, even one tiny part, then the entire space shuttle will explode.
A company or family is made up of parts which are the people involved. People are the main moving parts which endure the most stress when pushed beyond their limits. Given a business, if the production machinery or computer breaks down, the stress is transferred to the people involved. Some moving parts of a company are the equipment and when your computer crashes and you yell profanities at it, it does not jump out of fear and start working. It is only people who react so erratically as if cursing a machine will fix it.
Knowing that we must work with the underlying cause, we can focus on the stresses that are placed on people which make them malfunction. After all, it takes a malfunctioning person to build a machine that will fail. A properly functioning person should build a very reliable machine, and maintain it so that it does not break down.
Here we define two directions. The first is the true capacity and second is the perceived capacity.
True capacity is true, meaning consistent in all situations. That capacity is the machines limit. For machines the limits are documented by the designer and likewise for each individual human, there is a set limit although not documented.
Perceived capacity is the problem. This is where we have conflicts and communication breakdown. My view of your capacity is not the same as your view of your capacity. Further, your view of your capacity is most often not your true capacity but rather your perceived capacity.
Let us step aside to the corporate world and investor expectations. Investors are said to demand higher and higher profits and sales each year. That is against nature as nothing in our world perpetually increases. To demand this of a company is to go against nature and therefore beyond the machines capacity which will stress its parts and will eventually break down with stroke, heart attack, nervous breakdown, or roll right out the door.
When enough parts break down, the machine suffers. For example, many years ago in a city there were two newspapers, the Star and the Gazette. The Star was by far the larger paper, at least 10 times larger than the Gazette. Some issues came up and some of the people at the Star went on strike. That caused the machine to break down and run slower and slower until it ran so slow that readers and advertisers all moved to the Gazette. Eventually the Star went bankrupt and everyone lost their job.
It is wise to run a machine within its normal operating limits so it does not break down because if it breaks down too far, or for too long, it may not be repairable.
We shall now explore the reason for the different views of our individual true and perceived capacities.
The human mind is very complex machine and made up of many components. By understanding these components we can find the true stress limits rather than the perceived ones for each individual person. This is another course I teach called All is Mind and too large to include here.
Our mind is constantly being programmed to think in a certain way. Because we are not aware of this, we do not see that we are being programmed as to what we should think our limitations are. We then falsely believe that our opinions are our own. That is the first cause of errors.
Second, our current society is following a path called political correctness. This encompasses the concept that by changing a word we can change the reality. This is false and a distraction. If you know that wood will burn and now I say we shall call wood metal, you will say metal but think wood. Changing the name does not change reality. You can call it what you want, but it will still burn as wood and if you told someone that you made a nice fire out of metal, they will think you crazy. Even more so if you say you have a metal tree in your back yard.
Along with this attempt to avoid reality, we are decreasing the ability to see the natural swing of nature and the economy, and this is the root of many conflicts and stress.
When a machine is stressed, not only does it not perform according to design, but it may do many unpredictable and erratic things. This we all know about computers. Why did it do that!
Humans are the same. Learn about the machine of your mind and find the natural conditions and path a person or company should take in its current environment, follow this natural flow through increase and decrease to increase without avoiding reality, and stress levels will significantly decrease.
Gravity holds us to the earth. When you climb a mountain, you are fighting gravity which is pulling you down to the lowest point at the bottom of the mountain. When you go back down, you can practically fly. Opposing the force of gravity will stress your body physically with the effort of the climb. Fighting any natural force will likewise cause stress to the part that is fighting it, which is most often your mind.
I was in Nepal and took a small row boat on a large lake in Pokhara. While I was out, a storm started to brew and the winds picked up strongly. Unfortunately for me, my dock was against the wind. I rowed as hard and fast as I could, yet still went backwards, cursing all the time. A Nepalese man glided past me on the same type of boat, smiling he just shook his head and pointed for me to go in the other direction, with the wind. Use the wind to get safely to shore, and when the wind dies, then paddle to where I want to be. No stress mentally or physically, and all worked out exactly as desired.
With the decrease of unnaturally high stress levels, the components will function smoothly and you will find that recovery from any negative situation becomes quick, easier and of course far less expensive.
Now I ask you to consider the most basic function, the ability to speak and know what you are saying, the meaning of words. If some people find great success in the bad times, then those would be good times. So are times good or bad? That is all up to you.
A man and his only son worked on a farm with only a single horse to pull the plough. One day, the horse ran away.
“How terrible”, said the neighbours in sympathy. “What bad luck.”
The farmer replied, “Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck.”
A week later, the horse returned leading five wild mares into the barn.
“What wonderful luck!” exclaimed the neighbours.
“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows.” answered the old man.
The next day, the son fell and broke his leg while trying to tame one of the wild horses.
“How terrible. What bad luck!” said the neighbours.
“Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows.” replied the farmer.
Later in the week, a war broke out near the border, and since the local troops were badly outnumbered by the enemy, the army came to the surrounding villages to draft all the young men into battle. Because of his broken leg, the farmer’s son was spared.
Good luck? Bad luck? You never know!
Those fewer but highly successful people stayed calm and triumphed while the rest panicked under perceived stress. Perceived stress comes from ignoring reality, that all things work in cycles of growth and decay. By dealing with the natural reality, we can shorten the decline periods and use them as a propulsion to increase the growth periods beyond previous levels, but remaining aware that one day new growth will also have to step back.
Perpetual increase is against nature. In order to handle the times of decline calmly, be prepared during times of growth and expect that nature will take its turn to balance things out. You will be the first one to regain growth as soon as nature turns again. Learn to use the natural swings of decline to your benefit. I call myself an optimistic pessimist.
A simple line to always remember, make it a feature on your office or bedroom wall, “This too shall pass.”