Dealing with stress key to
By Duane Hicks
According to Dr. Joseph Michelli, a
renowned psychologist, consultant, author, and radio
host, stress is “anything that threatens us and
requires us to adapt.”
It is a person’s inability to react
to an inherited physiological “flight or fight”
response that allows us to become stressed.
But as the Colorado-based speaker
told a crowd of some 130 people gathered at La Place
Rendez-Vous last Thursday for the evening portion of the
Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual general
meeting, stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing—if you
have the right attitude and perspective.
“Stress is a good thing. The
opposite of stress is death,” Dr. Michelli remarked.
“But when you’re no longer performing well at work
because of stress, that’s when there’s a problem.”
But solutions do exist, as evident in
Dr. Michelli’s newest book, “When Fish Fly,” which
he co-wrote with John Yokoyama, owner of the World
Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Wash.
Dr. Michelli noted Yokoyama started
his fish market ruling it with a “totalitarian iron
fist” and soon went $50,000 into debt. It was only
after he changed the way he treated staff, and his
approach to business, that his success story began.
Dr. Michelli said Yokoyama revamped
how he managed the fish market and treated employees,
ended up with a remarkably successful business that has
been featured on CNN, and has taught the corporate world
valuable lessons about personal accountability, respect,
and how to make work both meaningful and fun.
“A fish market is not a pleasant
place to work. But sometimes, if you manage people to
manage stress in their lives, they’ll do amazing
things,” he explained.
Dr. Michelli suggested there are
three viable techniques for managing stress—you can
cope, you can change, or you can avoid stress
Given a specific situation, any one
of these techniques may be very effective.
However, by injecting humor into
these techniques, you can achieve better-than-expected
results. Dr. Michelli suggested using the following
•Learn the art of misdirection
(change the anticipated response and change the outcome)
For instance, at the fish market,
crowds gathered to see the workers throw around fish.
But the owner of the Italian market there complained
they were crowding up the street, and hurting his
So Yokoyama suggested that anytime
someone asked for something at the fish market that they
couldn’t sell them, they would pass out cards saying,
“We don’t carry that. Try the Italian market.”
The owner of the Italian market
stopped complaining—and even started buying from the
fish market he’d protested.
•Learn to find the good news in a
good news/bad news situation (when you start with,
“And the good news is . . .,” you create a crack in
For instance, when a fish is dropped
at the fish market, it could be seen as a loss in
profit. But instead, employees are told to look at it as
a good thing as that fish is donated to soup kitchens.
•Avoid Retired On Active Duty
employees (ROAD), also known as those who spend more
time worrying, and complaining, about everything that
they don’t have any for their actual work.
•Avoid CTD (circling the drain)
thinking, where the fretful anticipation of the worst
possible outcome leaves you paralyzed, seemingly without
•Avoid TIP-ping (taking it
personally). Separate the person from the problem,
because it’s not always about you.
•Know that things change. Ask
yourself, “Will this matter in five years?”
•Learn to use exaggeration, as it
lightens the perspective when used appropriately.
•Be a “joyspotter” and learn to
track joy. Keep a list of what brings you joy and
resolve to update it every day. Share this with
co-workers, friends, and family.
•And remember the secret to
happiness is “to want what you have.”
Nancy Daley, educator/trainer with
the CMHA here and organizer of the event, said she was
very pleased with Dr. Michelli.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” she said.
“I thought it was quite enlightening and upbeat. I
like the way he tied together humour and real life.”
Daley noted the CMHA office here
still has a few copies of “When Fish Fly” for sale.
Those interested can drop by 612 Portage Ave. and buy
While technically part of the
CMHA’s annual general meeting, the evening program was
attended by individuals from outside the CMHA, including
those from area businesses and organizations, such as
Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., Abitibi-Consolidated,
the Rainy River District School Board, and Good
Samaritan Home in International Falls.
The dinner was preceded by the
annual general meeting of the CMHA. This saw the
introduction of its 2004-05 board of directors and the
acknowledgment of outgoing members.
The new board includes president
Elaine Soucy, vice-president Tina Leimenstoll, Bev
Kotnik, and Caron Cridland, and new members Trudy
McCormick, Linda Rajala, and Fr. Wayne MacKintosh.
Outgoing members honoured were Jane
Tibbetts, who served 12 consecutive years on the board,
and Pat Crewson, who served nine years.
As well, a silent auction held at the
annual general meeting raised $1,683 for the CMHA.