Stress Management No Longer Works

Conventional approaches to stress (known as stress management) still assume that stress is temporary.  They don’t say it but it’s embedded in the solutions they propose.  We encourage clients to develop their stress leadership. This encapsulates the elements of stress management that work in the short term and marry them to the methods and approaches that help you get ahead of an evolving situation so that you can shape it to your advantage.

Why doesn’t Stress Management Work? 

Nearly all of us find a way through stressful situations. We often achieve this by taking resources from other areas of our lives such as our personal relationships, our health and well being or our ability to deal with things tomorrow. If we have the time to recover and make good any “borrowing” such as spending recuperative time with our families, this approach to stress would be fine. It would be an effective temporary fix and we will be able to balance out our spending.

Unfortunately, the “if” upon which this approach rests – “if we have time to recover”- is becoming less and less likely. Today, our reward for successfully tackling a crisis or challenge is an even greater challenge [a.k.a. career advancement or promotion]. The expectation of getting a rest (however necessary) is becoming unreasonable. So instead of focusing on the challenge in front of us, we need to focus on getting the recovery we need to come back stronger. We have to find a way to use today’s stress to become more successful tomorrow. If we see it merely as an obstacle, we will quickly run out of resources.

The ABCs of Stress and Success

Fast Fixes, the first of three books, recommends two overlapping ABCs for Stress and Success.  The first ABC will help you to master the moment and improve your immediate response to stress (to help you from 0-1 day). This is:


  1. Anticipate and Accelerate more effectively as you meet a challenge.
  2. Improve your Braking to slow your stress response where helpful,
  3. Reduce the Cost of your actions and prepare yourself for the next challenge.


The second ABC helps you to be even better prepared for those moments so that you can begin to choose the challenges you wish to tackle and avoid more of those stressors that reduce your long term capacity. This helps you from 0—90 days. This ABC is:


  1. Accumulate and Attract Resources to improve your capacity and capability for handling turbulence.  This will help you to choose how you respond to challenges and potential stressors.
  2. Brain Function—Support and structure your thinking so that you can maintain perspective, deepen your environmental awareness, think clearly, and avoid “progress traps”[i] and viral stupidity.
  3. Care and SupportEnsure you get (and give) the help and support needed for you and those you care about to tackle the challenges ahead.


The book takes you through the different perspective you need to cultivate to see through today’s challenge and to implement these ideas swiftly and cost effectively.

[i] I first came across this phrase in Ronald Wright’s 2004 book, A Short History of Progress. I use it with essentially the same meaning but for individuals or organisations instead of societies. That is, progress traps occur when we “solve” a problem today which, due to unforeseen consequences, creates a bigger problem in the future.