I’m giving a talk on stress tomorrow to one of the squadrons and I’m feeling a bit stressed out about it. I’ve never met these people before and I don’t know at what level to pitch the discussion so I’ve opted for a low-key approach. Mix it up with some pictures (the shark and the helicopter is an arresting image to start with) and I’ve drawn heavily from the UN peacekeepers’ stress management guide. I like the distinction it draws between three types of stress — basic, cumulative and traumatic.
But the trick for me is not to get too stressed out about it. These talks work best if they are tailored to the needs of the audience. From what I’ve been told the audience will mostly be ground crew and support staff.
As luck would have it, I have two other major stressors this week. I have to go away on another work trip next Monday, and this one will involve a drive of at least 12 hours practically up to Botswana. Yesterday I did the run-around getting signatures and authority. It’s such a tedious business when I have to get three signatures for everything and drive for 30 minutes at my own expense to do so. There are also the personalities to deal with along the way. Waiting for the OC’s signature for example, I was told by a major that she was going to be using the car after me and that I needed to get my “gat in ‘n rat” (my ass into gear) to make sure the car was in a good condition when she used it. This is from a woman who’s never met me before.
Then there’s the house stuff. I need to pay the balance of the purchase price this week, which means borrowing extensively from my parents. Of course I will pay them back as much as I can from the bond and also the sale of my house in Johannesburg. But there seem to be a lot of things out of my control at the moment. And I do resent the fact that I have to drive so far for work. With better organisation on their part this could have been avoided.
What this means in terms of blogging is that I won’t be blogging much (if at all) for a couple of weeks. I haven’t decided yet whether to take the laptop along but even if I do my attention will be largely elsewhere.
Here are two pictures I’m using for the stress talk.
The first one is a hoax and has been altered while the second one is true and shows construction workers on the Empire State Building. In those days they apparently didn’t have harnesses or protective headgear but they look relatively un-stressed about the job. A major part of stress management is managing your perceptions and it would be interesting to compare the perceptions of workers in those days with those now. From a South African perspective we seem to have a much greater sense of entitlement these days and workers are a lot more assertive about standing up for their rights. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of the discussion tomorrow.