Gini Dietrich

Competing for Who Is Most Stressed

By: Gini Dietrich | May 11, 2011 | 
138

I’ve been doing a lot of self-talk lately. You know. The kind where you have to convince yourself to behave differently than you feel because you’re a leader and you set the example.

You see, the launch of Spin Sucks Pro didn’t go exactly as planned and I’m not in control of what needs to be changed and fixed for it to be valuable to you and others. And that drives me batty. No, it drives me insane.

I don’t like not being in control and really wish I knew how to program and design so I could work 36 hours in a row and get it all fixed…at least to a Β point that is presentable and we’re comfortable charging for the content we’ve spent the last eight months creating.

But I don’t know how to program and design (and here I thought I could do everything) and it’s out of my control.

And it’s stressing me out. Big time.

I’m also feeling sorry for myself, mostly because I’m exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I had a single day off. I keep waiting for Spin Sucks Pro to generate revenue (which, of course, it can’t right now because of things beyond my control) so we can hire some content creators and I can, I don’t know, do my job of leading a company toward our vision.

And then I read a Harvard Business Review blog post that shook some sense into me.

Stress doesn’t discriminate between good and bad. It comes, unbidden, anytime we are in a situation in which we are worried about an outcome we feel is beyond our control. So we complain. We gossip. We get snarky. Which quickly infects those around us. And then they complain, gossip, and snark. Pretty soon we’re competing for who’s most stressed. Who’s got the most work. Who’s got the most ungrateful, unreasonable boss. Which, of course, just makes us all more stressed.

Sounds pretty familiar in the Arment Dietrich/Spin Sucks Pro offices lately. And I’m the biggest offender. Even though I do my self-talk and try to keep a happy face to influence morale and the culture, I’m much better at it earlier in the week than toward the end. By Thursday every week, I find I AM complaining about the things that are out of my control. I’m pretty snarky about it. And I’m completely aware of it, yet I don’t stop.

While I complain and gossip about all of the things wrong with Spin Sucks Pro, my team begins to do the same. And I love to hear it because, well, misery loves company. But it’s not making me feel better and, I’d guess, they don’t feel better either.

So this is it. I’m stepping out of that role and changing my attitude. This is one thing I won’t compete on. We’re all busy. We’re all tired. We’re all doing the jobs of three or four people and getting paid the salaries of half a person. We all have things that are beyond our control. We’re all in this together.

So this is my pledge to do better: To my team, to our crazy (but very lovable) Spin Sucks community, to our clients, and to my friends and family. That said, if you have an issue or problem and need to complain, I will listen. I will empathize. I will not add fuel to the fire.

If you see me going against this pledge, I expect you to call me out on it. And you don’t even have to be nice about it.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks,Β co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She alsoΒ is the lead blogger atΒ Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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138 Comments on "Competing for Who Is Most Stressed"

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DebraCaplick
DebraCaplick
5 years 1 month ago
You sound like me lately. But sometimes you just have to let off steam or the pressure cooker you place your system in is going to blow a gasket…and technology is perfect for creating stress. The physical results of unrelieved/unacknowledges stress on the body can be devastating. Just pick the time and place to blow off steam – a trusted friend, the gym, a frank resignation letter that you print off, crumple into a ball and throw across the room (just don’t hit “send”), or any number of other activities to avoid raising your blood pressure. If all else fails,… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
5 years 1 month ago

Mrs D. Sending you positive vibes. Let me know the location of said deadbeat programmers so I can go administer the beating we’ve discussed. Meanwhile, keep the chin up and just be your usual awesome self. Model who you want your team to be. They’ll just love you all the more for it (as will we).

MollyFulton
MollyFulton
5 years 1 month ago

Dang Gini! Will you get out of my head already? We keep thinking/writing about the same things lately. Here’s my post along the same lines yesterday: http://blog.vmeals.com/2011/05/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it.html

I applaud you taking responsibility for your response and impact on those around you. You rock!

CristerDelaCruz
CristerDelaCruz
5 years 1 month ago

Brave post, girlfriend! I’ll do my best to call you out on it if necessary. Please don’t hesitate to return the favor πŸ™‚ … guessing you probably won’t. Hesitate, I mean πŸ˜‰

rdempsey
5 years 1 month ago
Hi Gini – I know it’s easy to get sucked into the morass of suckage, and our egos love to keep us there. In an odd way it makes us feel better about ourselves. But psychology aside… Having done web development for the past 7 years and for clients for 6, I know how frustrating it can be. It still happens with some custom development I contract for clients today. What I’ve found works pretty well is to create a list of all the issues, see what doesn’t match up with what was promised and bring it up first, and… Read more »
KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 1 month ago

I for one, love your attitude. I think it’s what draws people to you. And while I’m not there seeing all this unfold, I am a teeny bit aware of what’s going on. Stress is understandable. I would be a mess if I were in your shoes.

Just wanted to let you know that you inspire me. There. Now I’m done being sappy.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@CristerDelaCruz You’re like a breath of fresh air so I doubt I’ll have to call you on it!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@KenMueller Thank you! It’s nice to know that’s your perception…especially because I’ve been complaining to you. πŸ™‚

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@rdempsey Yeah…we’ve done that. Three times. Hopefully the big meeting yesterday, with the recap and deadlines attached, will help. πŸ™‚

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@MollyFulton HAHAHA! I’ll totally go read your post! LOL!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@Sean McGinnis Thank heaven I have you around. You’re intimidating just to look at.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@DebraCaplick The letter idea is a GREAT one! I may actually write it and never hit send. And, with that, I’m off to ride my bike to relieve some stress. I’ll see you tomorrow!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@rdempsey And thank you for your offer to help!

JamesDBurrell2
5 years 1 month ago
If I choose to follow you in such a role (not complaining) does it mean that I can longer voice my dismay at your uncanny ability to lay down 7 letter words with such rare consistency that it makes the mailman seem inconsistent? Moreover, you seemingly only opt to use words that have been piled under dust for decades, used only briefly in stuffy English classrooms and among wielders of polished rhetoric in ornate tea rooms and parlors across the pond. However much as this seems to be a complaint, it is only a good morning compliment to your well… Read more »
DianaBaur
DianaBaur
5 years 1 month ago
Hi, Gini. I guess that it’s the curse of the entrepreneur. It’s a habit, the sense of never being satisfied and being unhappy about things not within our control. I live in Italy. Italy is a place where people come to relax because the paradigm is that people here don’t stress. Well there are a few people who stress here: the Type A foreigners who come here and try to act in the same way the did in Topeka or Hong Kong or wherever they might have come from, only to find that you can not get anything done here… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@JamesDBurrell2 That’s not a complaint. That’s merely a “Gini you really rock at Words with Friends” statement. LOL!! Right now you’re beating me. I hope it doesn’t last the whole game!

ParkRidgeDDS
ParkRidgeDDS
5 years 1 month ago

What a wonderful post….really….you are refreshingly honest and transparent about your issues and your values. Being a control addict myself, I can relate on SO many levels. And, while this post wasn’t a request for help or suggestions, I will share that http://wellhappypeaceful.com has become my daily go-to place to decompress…. I still struggle daily with my control issues but I have more options to allow me to give some of it up….

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@DianaBaur LOL!! That is SO FUNNY because @johnfalchetto and I talk about this. You don’t really go to live abroad and things change. If you’re a type A, you’re a type A, no matter where you live. Sometimes I think the simple life of living in the mountains and having to worry only about shoveling snow would be nice. But then I realize I’d try to overachieve at something and I’d be back where I am. Thanks for confirming that that is absolutely true!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@ParkRidgeDDS Well, I can say that poems and professional hugs and kisses from you really helps! I’ll check out your daily go-to place, but right now I’m off to ride my bike and sweat out some of my issues. πŸ™‚

NancyD68
5 years 1 month ago
I love this Gini! I am gong to announce right here that I am going to stop bitching about my bosses. So what they are all crazy? I have done all I can to educate them, and now I just have to move on. Complaining about it feels good in the short term, but has no real lasting effect. I can get myself all worked up about something, and then spin my wheels. A much better idea is to take positive action. I am even going to resist the urge to make a snarky comment right here. i want to… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

Hey – just showing kdillabough how to use tagging!

DianaBaur
DianaBaur
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @DianaBaur @johnfalchetto Gini to be honest I was stuck here in 2008 in about four feet of snow with my dog for over a week before the neighbor came and dug out our 1/4 mile hairpin driveway. All I had was firewood and DSL and a full freezer. I wrote about 5,000 words a day that week. When I looked back I thought it was like some bad parody of “The Shining”. Luckily I did not just type the same thing over and over into my computer πŸ™‚

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@NancyD68 Now, now. I didn’t say anything about you guys not being snarky! That’s what makes this community so much freaking fun! And I’ve never seen you complain about your bosses…only ask for advice in communicating with them.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@DianaBaur What did you do with all those words?!?

EricaAllison
5 years 1 month ago
Gini, I so love this post and admire you for sharing it, fessing up and well, keeping it real. I’ve had a very similar couple of weeks and I’ve been complaining to anyone who will hear me. I hear myself and think, “Get over yourself.” I had lost 2 of my bread and butter clients at the beginning of the month (not to competition, mind you, to the economy – which is the worst form of competition) and in an effort to keep them began hacking away at my services and fees so that I could keep the cash flowing.… Read more »
EricaAllison
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Yay! Ride that bike…enjoy it!

DianaBaur
DianaBaur
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich They are part of the book about opening a B&B in Italy. 120,000 word written. Still massaging it. Three years later. OY.

johnfalchetto
5 years 1 month ago

Gini, this takes guts. Coming out in the open with our own shortcoming, when things are going haywire with a project.

This is why you are a leader. Nobody is required to be perfect but some of us recognize we aren’t and try to change.

NancyD68
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich THANK GOD! I don’t think I could handle being serious all the time! Plus, you love that I make you spit Diet Coke! When are we going shoe shopping? Retail therapy works wonders for stress Gini.

wendykeneipp
wendykeneipp
5 years 1 month ago
@NancyD68 The crazy thing about spending the time complaining about your bosses is that 1. You are giving them control over your thoughts & emotions and 2. All the time you give them during the complaining is taking valuable time away from things that you could be thinking about or doing that is positive and that you can control. I’ve had a good friend consistently reiterate the control idea to me and it’s literally saved & changed my life – control what you can and let the other stuff go. I make a plan for how I can potentially regain… Read more »
KDillabough
KDillabough
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @ginidietrich Did it just to show that…yes, this is what I do every time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Not on this site of course πŸ™‚ but on others, where it’s like poltergeist. So no worries: I’m really not as dumb as I may appear…and I’m not gonna stress about it, teehee!

Gini, you are one real-meal-deal, and we love you for it! As @EricaAllison said: you keep it real! (and see, I do know what I”m doing:)

I say we all are now committed to the bitch-free/complaint-free zippidydoodahday society! Cheers! Kaarina

Lori
5 years 1 month ago

Hey Gini,

You’re a control freak!?! SISTER! I know what that’s like, and it’s not very much fun! I notice lately that I have to rely on other people a lot where I’m used to relying on my own resources. (It’s about time I learned that I can’t do it all on my own steam!) It is frustrating, though, when the others drop the ball.

And so it goes! What can you do about it! As my friend always says, hang on to the handles of the dinghy and ride the rapids. Sooner or later, you’ll come to calm waters!

Hugs

Lori

T60Productions
5 years 1 month ago

Hang in there Gini… that’s all. No big speech from me. Just hang in there, Your hard work is appreciated.

–Tony Gnau

T60Productions
5 years 1 month ago

Hang in there Gini… that’s all. No big speech from me. Just hang in there. Your hard work and attitude are appreciated.

–Tony Gnau

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 1 month ago

@johnfalchetto Hear Hear JF

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 1 month ago

@DianaBaur That was beautifully said Diana. πŸ™‚ Boy do I love it when I see your name pop up in places that are my favorite think-tanks.

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 1 month ago

You see, this is why they make trips to NY Gini– so that other really goofy (me) and smart (JF) people can make you laugh enough to forget the rigors of being a social media mogul πŸ˜‰

wabbitoid
5 years 1 month ago
I admire your honesty and openness and hope for the very best for you – and everyone who needs some time to simply breathe and enjoy the amazing fact that we are alive. All I can add is to emphasize the word “control”. I believe entrepreneurship is grossly over-rated as a concept because it stresses making things happen – organizing, convincing, leading. I much prefer the life of a craftsman, someone who shapes what is in their hands and can take pride in a job well done. “Control” is what it is. Life is right in front of you –… Read more »
nateriggs
nateriggs
5 years 1 month ago

And that’s why you are a leader, Gini. πŸ™‚ Having the awareness of the need to always be looking at our own actions, critiquing how they effect who’s around us and adjusting our behavior as necessary is what gives you the ability to really lead. (Thank Dr. Covey for all those ideas…)

I think you are more in control that you realize… (and yeah, I would kill to have picked up learning code and design when I was a kid. Would make things much easier).

Keep swinging, my friend… πŸ™‚

TheJackB
TheJackB
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich I started the week with a birthday post in which I complained about being bitter, angry and frustrated and your comment took some of the edge off. So let me return the favor and say that if I lived closer I’d make you go out for a drink.

Shonali
5 years 1 month ago
Yes, misery loves company, which is why I try to be careful about how many people I’m openly miserable with. They’re the people who’ll make me laugh and get out of it, or give me a swift kick in the butt and tell me to man up (yes, that phrase exactly). But sometimes you have to do that, Gini, to get it out of your system. However, there is a difference between doing it once in a while, and making it a habit. I can’t imagine you make it a habit, and this was just an extraordinary set of circumstances… Read more »
ladylaff
ladylaff
5 years 1 month ago
Dear Gini, is there anything I can do to persuade you to take at least a week’s holiday? I promise you everything will be fine, if not much better, when you return. You sound like an active and ambitious lady, so maybe go for a hiking or cycling holiday. I can honestly say that some of my best solutions to mind-bending problems have emerged when away from the office and in nature, focusing on something else. And I know you know this: your colleagues probably need a break from your crazy, lovable, bad self. You will be amazed and proud… Read more »
ladylaff
ladylaff
5 years 1 month ago

ps – if you go on holiday, I’ll be happy to contribute a Spin Sucks guest blog! πŸ™‚

faybiz
5 years 1 month ago
I learned a long time ago (and that’s a long story) to not let those things get to you. How? I’m still not sure. I will FREAK OUT at an inanimate object that doesn’t do what I want it to (ever heard the 12 pains of xmas? that was ALWAYS me until my wife came along) but a person screwing up or or a system not bearing out? Cakewalk for me. I’ve gotten better about the inanimate objects but I am definitely more like to go bananas over a lightbulb that won’t fit versus someone I work with screwing up.… Read more »
rachaelseda
5 years 1 month ago
Way to go @ginidietrich . I can only begin to imagine how stressful launching Spin Sucks Pro. I know that while technology can sometimes hinder your plans and make you feel like you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do when you said you would. The reality is there’s always going to be stuff beyond your control and what I do know for certain is when you put in the effort it all works out. I am beyond certain that Spin Sucks Pro is going to be awesome. I am beyond pumped about it and I will wait for… Read more »
therealkazia
5 years 1 month ago
I spent most of April in the exact same head space. Falling behind with deadlines, a client project that just wouldn’t work, life stuff in general, it all brought me down, I can empathize 100%. As much as I adore the technology that allows me to do what I do for a living, there are days I want to smash it all and go live in a cave int he hills never to see an electronic anything, ever again. And I am seriously in awe of your content creation schedule! You turn out great posts pretty much on a daily… Read more »
wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites
5 years 1 month ago

It’s freaky how much I needed to hear this today. I’ve been trying the upbeat self-talk since I woke up this morning, and this post has helped it finally take hold. Otherwise, I was going to have to resort to the “stop sounding like your-mother-the-martyr” talk, and I hate that one.

Verilliance
Verilliance
5 years 1 month ago
Yay you! But this concerns me in a more broad sense, and has been for a while. There’s this lure, this promise, this hope that social media is a gold-mine for anyone that does it right, but what I see is a lot of people overworking themselves to the point of overwhelming exhaustion, burn-out, or mini-breakdowns. What is the solution? I don’t know. Back to your pledge to not gossip and complain. Several years back I worked and lived at a Buddhist meditation center. (It had it’s own stressors, believe it or not.) Part of the Buddhist teachings is the… Read more »
wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites
5 years 1 month ago

I loved your comment. I have not studied Buddhism much but a friend who has inspired me to write a very simple post about Right Speech and how it might be applied to social media. This is definitely rich food for thought. http://wagnerwrites.com/blog/wise-engagement/ @Verilliance

KevinVandever
KevinVandever
5 years 1 month ago

When you really stop to think about it (thank you for writing this and making us stop to think about it), complaining and gossiping are exactly the least effective ways to handle potentially stressful situations; yet we usually go there first. We should all make the same pledge and before we ever think to call you out, we should look in the mirror at ourselves, first. You know, glass houses and all.

You bravely go were most are not willing to go, but you will win in the end…or, at least, feel much better about yourself πŸ™‚

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