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“Good” stress that is! Many people are unaware that there are two types of stress: Distress and Eustress. Distress is bad stress and occurs when an individual, team, or organization cannot effectively adapt to their surroundings. It can result in maladaptive behaviors such as anger, aggression, passivity, withdrawal, and result in poor decision-making. Distress has a direct correlation to increased mental or physical sickness and is a major cause for depression, low productivity, increased work absence, and ultimate burn out.

An individual, or team, can experience distress for many reasons:

  • Lack of leadership in defining vision, outcomes, or expected results

  • Overemphasis on changing organizational behaviors without addressing the underlying structure

  • Lack of trust due to consistently broken commitments from leaders or peers

  • When an individual or team feels they have no control over their destiny

  • When there is a culture of perfectionism and it is “unsafe” to explore, stumble, or evaluate alternative solutions

  • Misalignment of talent and overemphasis on making an individual’s weakness a strength

  • Systemic lack of appropriate resources (talent, tools, $$) to reach a goal / target

People, or teams, that operate in distress often behave as “human doings”, reacting or responding to their circumstances. Complacency sets in as they form a tightly defined comfort zone. As the rate of change, innovation, and competition accelerate that comfort zone gradually shrinks relative to the wider world around them. While we’ve all experienced levels of distress in our daily lives the key lies in not languishing there.

Eustress is the positive stress that motivates you to achieve something uncommon. Coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, eustress describes the type of stress that provides us with a sense of hope, fulfillment, and purpose. The right stress, and process for managing, can be inspirational and generate motivation, drive, productivity, and a greater self-esteem.

Eustress is about creating. Our out-dated success principles don't function as well in these rapidly changing times. Success on our own terms requires a paradigm shift. Creating a vision, while grounded in reality, is the single biggest thing an individual or team can do to create eustress. Creating a healthy tension, referred to as structural tension, between your ambition and resources is a powerful way to awaken motivation, drive, and optimism.

Spencer W. Kimball once said, “Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir one's soul.” It is more important than ever for individuals and organizations to develop a capacity to create the future they most want. There has never been another time where knowledge, technology, and connectivity have been so accessible to so many.

To create anything, you must begin with a clear picture of what you want regardless of the resources currently at your disposal. Don’t be dissuaded by your current lack of knowledge, resources, finances, etc. The process of creating is more about experimentation and learning and not where you went to school or how much money you have in the bank.

Though successful action is driven by vision, you must confront the objective reality of your current situation. Be intellectually honest about your current state so you don’t distort reality. Try to suspend judgment of your current reality, even if it appears bleak. People often give up when confronting their current state due to the emotional stress it can create. The gap between your vision and current reality shouldn’t be viewed as an indictment but instead a clearer opportunity to explore the life you were meant to live.

Staying connected to your vision and reality simultaneously produces excitement, anticipation, and a desire to act. The structural tension created in establishing a clear vision and an objective reality produces eustress. This discrepancy is a powerful force in awakening your potential as an individual, team, or organization.

Go for what matters regardless of what you have. You will find an amazing array of knowledge, options, and resources once you create this tension. Have faith in your resourcefulness and assume you don't have what it takes. The key to success is in uncovering whatever it takes to make your vision a reality.

Human doing or human being? We live in exponential times and there’s never been a better time to live to your fullest expression. Tapping into our highest aspirations creates eustress and is the ultimate source of strength.

Contact us at to explore how strategic planning and individualized coaching can provide the framework and leverage to turn finite resources into infinite possibilities.

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