Silly Putty and Stress

Have you ever dealt with stress?  Me, too.  I think that we all have.

I did my undergraduate in New Hampshire in engineering then moved to Germany to work and do my masters work and I didn’t speak the language.  It was stressful immersing in a whole new culture.

Why would an engineer be involved in any of this stuff?

 

You can listen to the Podcast free here:

https://soundcloud.com/user-655379556/silly-putty-and-stress

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/silly-putty-and-stress/id1282091502?i=1000392167208&mt=2

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SUMMARY

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Have you ever dealt with stress?  Me, too.  I think that we all have.

I did my undergraduate in New Hampshire in engineering then moved to Germany to work and do my masters work and I didn’t speak the language.  It was stressful immersing in a whole new culture.

Why would an engineer be involved in any of this stuff?

I realized every engineer has to be a manager and a leader. I had a small team under me that grew into a big team …. and I didn’t speak the language.  So I had to really learn how to ‘intuit’  – how to connect with people.

85% of how we communicate is nonverbal.

So, I’ve got three tips for you, and then one key take-away that you need to remember.

When I look up stress, there are two top definitions.

1st definition: “pressure or tension exerted on a material object for example the distribution of stress is uniform across the bar.”

2nd definition:   “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  He’s obviously under a lot of stress.”  I’m starting to see a parallel to our lives.  How many of you out there feel stress and then a strain due to that stress?  I think that we all do to some extent.

Silly Putty belongs to an interesting class of materials called viscoelastic.  If I slowly apply tension to this piece of Silly Putty, it will slowly stretch out, but if I stretch it quickly it snaps.  In the case where the putty snaps, I didn’t necessarily pull it any further.  As a matter fact, I didn’t pull it nearly as far as in the first case.  The strain rate matters.

 

Key takeaways?

 

  1. Recognize that you can do this. We are notoriously bad at seeing the truth when we’re stressed out.
  2. Reach out to a loved one or a trusted advisor.
  3. Don’t let time pressure get you down because that is the common denominator.

Common denominator:  We have to recognize that  time and our perception of time is the key to how we react to stress, and then anxiety is our reaction to that stress, so that’s like a compounding factor.  If you want to start eliminating stress you need to recognize that time is a factor.   One example is simply recognizing that we often put a fake and false urgency on ourselves and our actions.

 

Thanks very much for your time.  I’m Rocco Luongo, please check out GoRocco.Pro, you can sign up for our newsletter, read the blog, and take a free assessment and get a free coaching session.  I have developed assessments and coaching plans that are all based on Neuroscience, based on the way your brain works, motivation, but it doesn’t miss the hear, the love, the intuition, the things that really matter.  Go YOU!!!

 

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FULL TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO

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Hi Everyone, Rocco Luongo here.  20-year consultant, coach and tech leader and I’m here to talk to you a little bit today about something we’ve all stressed about something we’ve all struggled with whoops I think I gave it away . . . stress.  Have you ever dealt with stress out there I think we all have.  We have all felt it – me too, of course.

 

My story: I started my career in my early twenties; did my undergraduate in New Hampshire in engineering and I had the great fortune to head off to Germany to work there, do my masters work there, and I didn’t speak the language.  It was very stressful moving away from my family, away from my friends, having to experience a whole new culture.  It was difficult. It was stressful. I felt the pressure all the time.  Luckily I had a good support network and luckily I also I enjoyed the challenge of it.  I enjoyed seeing these new challenges and rising to them.

 

When I left Germany came back to United States . . . but I didn’t always enjoy it right mean there were definitely periods that were extremely stressful and challenging, and I’m sure you guys have felt this, too.

 

One of the things I want to talk to you guys today is about stress and I want to do this from a tech focus because that’s what I do.  I do Consulting and coaching based on technology. I have developed assessments and coaching plans that are all based on Neuroscience, based on the way your brain works, motivation, but it doesn’t miss the hear, the love, the intuition, the things that really matter.

 

Why would an engineer be involved in any of this stuff?

 

The reason is when I started my career out in Germany I realized right away, well actually they just taught me, that every engineer has to be a manager and a leader. I immediately, even as a very young guy, had a small team under me that grew into a big team …. and I didn’t speak the language.  So I had to really learn how to ‘intuit’  – how to connect with people.

 

85% of how we communicate is nonverbal.

 

It’s the way we move, it’s the way we gesture, the way we intone, the way we inflect.  So doing these things helped me to learn, helped me to grow, helped me to learn how to deal with stress.

 

So, I’ve got three tips for you, and then one key take-away that you need to remember, one common driver to stress because that’s what engineers do.   We engineers want to find out what the common denominator is so that we can simplify and move forward.  I didn’t come up with this because I wanted to, I came up with this out of a natural emergence.

 

The patents on the wall, the degrees on the wall, these things that I’ve done – you guys can do this stuff too – I am no more special than you.  The only difference is that I only go after the things that matter, things that naturally emerge and that’s why I came up with these solutions.  All these coaching programs and tools that I’ve written help me manage, help me lead, help me get more effective in both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world, which aren’t always the same thing.

 

I realize that there are common denominators underlining them in today we’re going to take some of these tools we’re going to take a look at stress.

 

This is a facilitation that I’ve done live with clients,  I’ve done with friends, and I’ve done online and I’m going to do it with you now by putting it on my YouTube channel, across my Social Media, and my website www.GoRocco.pro. That’s my new URL I’ve got a pipeline behind it we can do free assessment, you can get your free coaching session, so check it out.

 

I also do facilitations, I do strategy sessions but there’s going to be a lot more videos coming up so you’ll get to see a lot more of the fun things we do but for today: 3 tips for dealing with stress and one key takeaway, one common denominator.

 

Before we get to those things let’s talk a little bit about what stress is.  OK, so I spent a little time this morning taking a look at stress, and it is actually perfect because it’s so clear to an engineer and it always seems to be to us.  When I look up stress, there are two top definitions.  The top definition is “pressure or tension exerted on a material object for example the distribution of stress is uniform across the bar.”  That’s a very engineering-type example. In engineering we define stress in terms of something called Hooke’s Law, where you have stress over strain it’s an elastic situation and this happens for materials regardless of their shape or size, for the most part.  If you take a steel bar and stretch it, all bars made of that same material will exhibit the same stress or strain for that same geometry, and if the geometry is different you can infer how it will behave as you stress it and how it strains as a reaction to that stress.

 

I’m starting to see a parallel to our lives.  How many of you out there feel stress and then a strain due to that stress?  I think that we all do to some extent.

 

What’s the second definition?   “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  He’s obviously under a lot of stress.”  You can tell when people are under stress, right?  You can see it.  You can see the fatigue set in.  You can see maybe the shoulders coming up.  You can see them hunching and stressing out.  OK, we get it, we understand what that’s like so what have I learned through my coaching and my leading and in my consulting dealing with stress?  Number one, stress can be a terrible thing, but it depends on how we react to it.  It depends very much on how we choose to react to stress.

 

Stress can also be quite energizing. Check out  Kelly Mcgonigal’s talk on Facebook (and TED.com).  She’s fantastic!  She talks about how once you recognize the stress reaction, recognize that it’s supposed to help you and help you move forward by energizing you; increasing your heart rate, increasing the release of hormones, it can help you focus but the problem of stress is when it becomes chronic, when it’s happening to you all of the time and I’ve given you the clue again.  That final take-away, the common denominator in all stress that I have found through my research, and in my work consulting you’re going to see if you’re coming up in a little bit.

 

What else did we take a look at this morning?  I took at the American Association for Anxiety and Depression.  Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another.  The difference is between them is that stress is a response to a threat and anxiety is a reaction to stress.

 

Anyone out there feel anxiety?  Do you recognize that anxiety is a reaction to stress, and that if your stress goes away, your anxiety should go away, too?  Again, this is from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America under their “understanding the facts” section.

 

OK, so what we going to do about stress? Get enough sleep.  Get enough exercise.  Try not to drink too much caffeine.  OK, fair enough, I’m using half caffeine / half decaf.  Though I may not sound that way, but I do.

 

But what do all these things have in common?  What is the underlying common denominator? We took a look at stress in terms of an engineering example: stress associated with a bar; and stress in terms of a mental stress.  “He’s obviously under a lot of stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or tension.”

 

Do you see that the same words are in there?   If I take a metal bar and put it under tension and stretch it out and stress it, it will experience strain, then there’s the state of mental or emotional strain or tension.  That’s the emotional stress.  Do you see the parallels?  The parallels are there,  so let me show you something that I’ve done at some of my facilitations and I use with my clients I call this the ‘Silly Putty exercise.’

 

Silly Putty belongs to an interesting class of materials called viscoelastic, and a viscoelastic material can exhibit properties of both a ductile and a brittle material.  So, when we think about a ductile material, we think of something like gold or lead, something that you can really stretch out, but in reality steels exhibit significant ductility depending on their alloy and their heat treatment.  You can actually take a bar of steel and stretch it out, as a matter of fact one of the things I did as an undergraduate was working in a materials lab where we did a lot of these kinds of tests and this has led to some of my forensics and expert witness work, just through the understanding of materials and how they fail.

 

If I apply tension to this piece of Silly Putty, which I’ve made into a relatively uniform cross-section, and I apply tension to it, just as if I’m being stressed in my life, I’m having tension put on me.  So I pull this ‘bar’ and if I pull it slowly it will stretch out.  Have you guys ever felt this way that maybe you had to stretch to reach out for a goal?  What happens when we apply that stress over a long period of time?  What if we think about stresses as things that maybe we don’t want to face, as things we don’t want to do, or maybe things we do want to do, but we just don’t feel that we have enough time, and if I have to pack them all in one morning, I could feel stretched really bad and snap.

 

In the case where the putty snaps, I didn’t necessarily pull it any further.  As a matter fact, I didn’t pull it nearly as far as in the first case.  What we learn is that the strain rate matters.

 

It’s that rate at which we apply stress that’s the key. This is common in materials as well.  For example, if you’re looking into a carbon fiber failure, you need to look at the strain rate, that is the rate at which you have strained that material.  It’s not just the force like in a metal bar.  For example, if a metal bar can take 1,000 lb and I apply that fast or slow, although it depends how far you pull it of course because strain rate matters there, too, but in general you’re going to get that same rate of stress.  But if you take something like this, and like us because we’re more like Silly Putty than we are like metal, right? We can stretch.

 

This is what I did in my career, too.  This is how I moved up into  leadership roles. I’m the engineer and sitting at my desk, doing my CAD work and someone says, “Hey we need to pick up one of the hedge-fund guys at the airport and bring them by because we’re going to do a pitch and we’re going to see if we can get some more money for a B-round.”

 

I said, “OK, I’ll do that.” Most of the engineers look down, right?

 

A company needs to stretch before it can grow, and you have to stretch, too.  And, you can stretch by recognizing that your stress is going to fail at a strain rate, relative to how fast you apply that stress.

 

So what is the key takeaway here?  If we stretch too fast we will snap and actually if you take a look at that surface, that is more or less what a brittle surface would look like in a metal, too. This material can exhibit qualities of a ductile or a brittle material.  So can you.

 

You can stretch to reach that goal if you choose to a certain extent that path.  If you’re able to reach out, to do it, and if you don’t let pressure drive you down.  Again, with regard to pressure, if I compress the putty, that’s putting pressure on it.

 

What are the key takeaways?

 

  1. Recognize that you can do this. You’ve survived worse. You’ve been on this planet. Recognizing that you have survived worse is maintaining perspective. A lot of times in coaching and consulting lots of the work is in helping you see that there’s a better perspective, another perspective.  Don’t stress yourself out too much.  We are notoriously bad at seeing the truth when we’re stressing ourselves.
  2. Reach out to a loved one or a trusted advisor, again, to gain perspective, to talk to someone, to get engaged, seek help, seek advice; and lastly
  3. Don’t let time pressure get you down because that is the common denominator that I told you I was going to share with you.  Time pressure is a killer.  Time pressure is the common denominator in stress.  Strain rate means something over time, something done over a period of time.  If I have to do ten things that stress me out, but I can stretch that out over a week it’s not as stressful.  If I have to do it all in one morning, it’s a lot more stressful, so clearly the time matters.  Time is the common denominator in stress and more so is our perception of that urgency.

 

You can see this across any definition of stress. In general, considering engineering materials like steel and things like that, if we load it with 100 lb. fast or slow it tends not to make too much difference, although at some level it does.  It measurably matters, and so when I talk about stress in terms of a human, in terms of the way we deal with stuff, we have to recognize that  time and our perception of time is the key to how we react to stress, and then anxiety is our reaction to that stress, so that’s like a compounding factor.

 

You have to go back and eliminate that stress and if you want to start eliminating stress you need to recognize that time is a factor  If you remove time from the equation you will not feel stressed out and I can give you examples. One example is simply recognizing that we often put a fake and false urgency on ourselves and our actions.  That urgency comes from inside so let’s try to make sure that we don’t let outside influences trigger us into having this stressful reaction.

 

This constant stress, this constant state of ‘fight or flight’ which can be beneficial for a short time,  like for example a tiger’s chasing you and it’s going to eat you.  That’s real!  That’s something you need stress for and time is definitely a factor!  “I need to get away now!”

 

But are the things that consume our day, are those emails important?  Sure, get them done but is it truly urgent?  Steve Covey wrote in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that we need to focus on what’s called ‘quadrant two exercises’ and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.  Everybody should read it, along with How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  It’s absolutely essential that you read 7-habits and understand it because the way we grow is focusing on things that are important but not urgent.

 

You need to reduce that level of false urgency out of your life; that urgency we put on ourselves.  It’s up to you to choose.

 

What are the do’s and don’t’s?

 

DO:

  1. Reach out to a mentor if you’re stressed out, or friend, or loved one.  Share it and talk about it.  Help reduce that tension and reduce that stress as you stretch the problem out over a little bit of a longer time and recognize that you’re a human you are not a bar of steel.  You’re more like silly putty, okay?  Gain a perspective and don’t snap yourself.
  2. Recognize that you have overcome tougher things before.

DON’T:

 

  1. Let false urgency make time an enemy.
  2. Don’t let time drag you down and crush you with pressure.

 

Time can work for you and we’ll do another video talking about ‘time as a team member’ later, so stayed tuned!

 

Time is the common factor if I stretch it out slowly, I can stretch and grow but if I try to pull it too fast I’ll snap.

 

Thanks very much for your time.  I’m Rocco Luongo, please check out GoRocco.Pro, you can sign up for our newsletter, read the blog, and take a free assessment and get a free coaching session.  Go YOU!!!

 

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