My all time favourite TV series is M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama centred around the doctors and nurses of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit during the Korean War. The series was so popular that it outlasted the duration of the 3 year war, spanning 11 seasons and 251 episodes.

The strong characterisation and story lines presented thought provoking themes that provide an ideal platform for lessons on life and leadership. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I'm sure you will connect with my leadership insights from M*A*S*H.

LEADING FROM THE TRENCHES features bite-sized, candid insights that speak into the gritty space of leadership through the eyes of a fellow leader seeking to "lead with all diligence" (Romans 12:8).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Handling Stress

Episode 7:  Bananas, Crackers And Nuts

Trapper:  You know, if I was to analyse your symptoms…
Hawkeye:  Yeah?
Trapper:  I would say stress.  Irritability from overwork.
Hawkeye:  That’s what I’ve got.
Trapper:  And you know what would I prescribe?
Hawkeye:  Two days rest and recreation at the R and R centre in Tokyo
Trapper:  Actually, I was thinking about three days.
Hawkeye:  Well, you’re the doctor.  Shall we visit our 
          friendly travel agent?

Hawkeye and Trapper are starting to feel the stress from overwork and are upset when Henry refuses their request for some R and R. They devise a plan for Hawkeye to pretend he is cracking up to swindle some leave passes from Frank, while Henry is absent. Their plan comes unstuck when Margaret arranges for a psychiatrist friend to examine Hawkeye to expose his act.

This is a subject I feel unqualified to speak about, as I am often accused of being a workaholic.  The truth is I am a driven person, have a type-A personality, and a high tolerance for stress.  Nevertheless, even I recognise the importance for leaders to understand their stress threshold and engage in activities that re-energise them.  Kenneth Blanchard says that, “Stress in and of itself is not good or bad.  It all depends on how you handle it.”  Leaders need to learn how to handle stress before it handles them.  Stress can either be a positive force that stimulates productivity or a negative force that suffocates potential.

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