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Oct 3, 2020 in 

Can Anxiety Be Good For Me At Work?

Bad Anxiety And Good Anxiety: It depends on what type of anxiety it is. Does it freeze or does it move you forward?

Kit Hill

Business Coach

250 $ / session

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Bad Anxiety And Good Anxiety

Anxiety can weigh us down and help us to freeze up or run away as well as be aggressive. That's what you call overwhelming or non-adaptive anxiety. On the other hand, adoptive anxiety can be a real asset. My old boss John Townsend explains it this way.

“I once worked with an executive who felt such great anxiety about meeting with his board that he could hardly speak to them coherently. We had to work on reducing his anxiety from the overwhelming level to the adaptive level. After that, he presented himself well.”

This relates something that happens to us a lot at New Life. We see this both in counseling and in executive coaching as people try to function in their home and worklife. Most of us are pretty familiar with overwhelming or non-adaptive anxiety. We may have experienced this a lot as a child, as a young adult and continued to experience it in adulthood.

On the other hand, there's adaptive anxiety. This anxiety acts like a stimulus and helps motivate us on to good things. You could even say that this anxiety is excitement or a more positive anticipation.

An example of adaptive anxiety might be anxiety you get when your staff is holding you accountable about that Death By Power Point presentation you're going to be giving in an hour. Or a senior manager has giving you a huge project and asked you to report to her every week on the progress you're making. Or you know it's important as the boss to confront a difficult employee or staff member who needs a correction that will really help them do a better job.

Which one do you have: adaptive anxiety or non-adaptive anxiety? Write out the negative and positive things you’re anticipating. Also, by telling someone you trust about your thoughts you will shine light on whatever anxiety it is and empower yourself to handle it better.



Townsend, John. The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way (p. 18). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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