Newsflash! Anxiety can be helpful.

Monday was National Stress Awareness Day, so it feels like the right time to talk about all things stress and anxiety, and their impact on your ability to reach your professional potential. Whether you’re running your own business or building a career.

As a strengths and career coach, many of the psychometric tools I use to help my clients reconnect with what makes them tick and what they’re great at look, at a personality trait called ‘Adjustment’. Those reporting a lower level of adjustment tend to exhibit behaviours associated with stress and anxiety (worry, insecurity, self-doubt etc) more often than those with higher levels. Essentially, it is a measure of how easily an individual can adjust to stress in his or her environment.

Having higher levels of adjustment is often purported to be the most desirable trait in corporate competency models – think relaxed, secure, resilient – however I have good news for all us self-doubters out there.

Having lower adjustment can actually be a GOOD thing, providing we are able to recognise and understand our own personal stress limits.

Those of us with lower adjustment tend to be naturally more self-deprecating and set ridiculously high standards for ourselves, our businesses and our careers.

As such, this constant anxiety (at manageable levels) can actually do those of us with low adjustment scores a favour. It can act as a driver and motivator, much like money, power or ambition might drive another person. In fact, fear of failure might be a stronger driver of our achievement than an actual desire for success.

You see, anxiety and worry can actually be productive and useful when they are harnessed to improve our performance. Many successful entrepreneurs report low levels of adjustment and they emphasise the importance of this associated worry in their work.

Do you find that there is always something at the back of your mind, a problem or an opportunity that needs to be addressed? In the middle of the night, if you’re anything like me!? But as with every trait, there’s an optimal level. Too much or too little of any personality trait is always associated with problematic behaviours.

Those with very high adjustment may seem distant or detached. Very low levels of adjustment can lead to avoidance of the source of the stress altogether. Moderately low adjustment can be an asset when effectively channeled and used in the right way.

Self-awareness is crucial for harnessing your natural tendency to be anxious. Everyone has a different level of adjustment (their stress threshold). Even those with the highest levels of adjustment have a breaking point. Take the advice given to gamblers: “Know Your Limit, Play Within It”.

Drop me a line if you’re keen to boost your own self-awareness levels (or indeed those of your employees), so that you too can understand how your own adjustment levels have a bearing on your own career or the way you run your own business.

I am a qualified strengths coach and I run my own career and professional confidence coaching and employee engagement consultancy, Shine Brighter Consulting.

You can find me on:

@shinebrightermums on instagram and Facebook and on twitter as @shinebright_sjc

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