Working Wisdom: Your Response to Stress Determines Your Outcome

It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable. 

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990)

A stressor doesn’t necessarily lead to stress.  Surprised?  It’s because a stressor is simply an external condition or event – while stress is an internal reaction that may or may not occur in response to a stressor.  Our perception, therefore, becomes our reality.  The likelihood that a stressor will lead to feelings of unease is determined by our interpretation, perception and reaction to it.  A stressor in and of itself is not predictive of the outcome.  When something ‘stressful’ happens, do you characterize it as a catastrophe or a failure?  What about redefining it as an opportunity to learn or as an exciting possibility?  Our attitudes toward a stressful situation will determine the emotions and behaviors of our response – which, in turn, will set the stage for the ultimate outcome.  Will you be miserable – or make lemonade out of lemons?  The choice is yours.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to

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