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Gini Dietrich

Competing for Who Is Most Stressed

By: Gini Dietrich | May 11, 2011 | 
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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  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, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

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