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Success Under Stress 

Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On  

by Sharon Melnick, AMACOM, New York, N.Y., 2013, 250 pp. with index, $17.95 softcover


Author Sharon Melnick, a business psychologist, introduces what she refers to as the “new normal” -- a state where everyday stressors can wear us down and make it more difficult to reach our next level of success.

Melnick points out in Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On that you have more control than you think you do in difficult situations, and she advocates three ways of gaining control: changing your perspective, changing your physiology and changing the problem.

Melnick states that each of the three approaches can be learned and implemented in three minutes or less and leads to a “Golden Rule of Resilience.” This is a process that countless leaders have used to pull themselves into the Success Under Stress cycle. She also refers to it as the 50 percent rule. This means mastering the factors actually under your control as an administrator. In other words, don’t try to manage everything in your organization. Instead, manage impeccably that which you do control, and take charge by changing your emotional and physical state.

You can accomplish this by working with others to achieve your personal objectives as well as those of the group. Melnick advocates influencing a group for their reasons rather than yours. Deliver your request in terms of “WHIIFT” -- What’s In It For Them. Everyone is motivated by their own reasons. When you determine what a person’s reason is by listening to them, you frame your request in terms of how following your request will help the person achieve what he or she wants.

As Melnick explains, “Stress occurs when the demands of a situation exceed your perceived ability to control them. The key is to learn that the more you perceive you can control, the lower your stress.” Her book demonstrates numerous tactics and tools to decrease leadership stress.

Reviewed by William J. Leary, professor emeritus, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.


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