By Alexander Dolin
I have felt the daily grind and stress from having a job I loathed. For almost three years, I worked for a large freight corporation. As a dockworker, I had the responsibility of loading and unloading semi-trailers, often full of skids with freight, and sometimes full of equipment that had fallen off skids, such as tires, boxes and other items. Needless to say, this job and the environment were very demanding and stressful.
Each dockworker was constantly under pressure from management to do the job both quickly and accurately. The supervisors wanted us to stay productive and get the trailers unloaded quickly, but they also needed us to take our time and “do the job right the first time.” Oftentimes, I felt torn by these demands: on one end they want me to speed up and finish unloading the trailers, but at the same time they want me to slow down and not damage the freight. The environment was chaotic, as there were almost 200 open semi-trailers and almost 50 other guys on forklifts working on the same dock at any given time. I tried to do my best work every day—to keep productivity up without harming the freight.
After I learned the best practices and the tricks of the trade, I gained more trust among my colleagues and the supervisors. In fact, the supervisors changed my role from just being an unloader to loading, too; I was now in charge of making sure that all of the freight in one section of the dock was loaded properly and timely. Throughout the evening, 30 other dockworkers brought freight that needed to be shipped in the trailers for which I was responsible. At times, the amount of freight and stress was overwhelming.
I honestly did not enjoy going to that job. The entire environment was negative, and almost all of my coworkers disliked the stressful environment. The day-to-day interactions among the employees were testament to this: the dock was filled with grumbling, complaining and aggression. Very few workers had a positive outlook, and it seemed like we could never please the managers or each other on the dock. Over time, I burned out and eventually quit the job.
I tell this story not to put down my fellow dockworkers or the company where I worked, but to relate my experience of living that daily grind. That dock was not a place of encouragement and hope. My memory serves as an avenue of empathy, so I can reach out and connect with others who are working in a stressful workplace.
Before I left the company, I did not comprehend that I was stressed out. I only knew that the job was not my passion. I was a part-time student, and I hoped it would not become my career; it was merely a source of income. In knew that after finishing my education, I would eventually move to a profession that better suited my purpose in life. I am blessed to have found that calling in stress management coaching and professional counseling.
The Serenity Prayer
If I could go back to that loading dock job with the coping skills I have today, I would not experience that same high level of stress. That said, I would like to share one of the simplest and most profound ways that you can combat stressful situations in your life and preserve your own peace of mind. It’s called the Serenity Prayer, and anyone can use it to instill a mindset of hope that will help release stress. The Serenity prayer is a simple yet powerful statement that was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Nielbuhr (1892–1971). Today, it is used in many 12-step recovery programs, and it transcends religion (so if the word “God” doesn’t resonate with your belief system, just remove it):
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This statement recognizes that there are many things outside of our control, and that we need to let go of them. We need to find peace within ourselves because we cannot control the actions and thoughts of others. However, we can learn to control our own thoughts and actions, and we need courage to do the best that we can do on a personal level. And when there are situations where we find ourselves unsure if there is anything we can do, we need wisdom to decide if we can or should act with courage or simply let go.
Let peace flood in when you realize that things are out of your power.
If I had this influential mindset when I worked on the loading dock, I might have lasted longer in that position, perhaps until I graduated. I would have realized what was in my power, loading the best trailers on the dock, and focused on that task. I would have been able to let go of the things I couldn’t control, such as the mistakes that other dock workers made. I would have had the wisdom to know that fixing their mistakes was part of my job, and I could have released the pressure I felt from the extra time it took to do this. I would not have buckled under the pressure managers placed on my shoulders and their constant hounding to get the job done faster.
It’s a blessing to learn from the mistakes of others—in this case mine! The next time a flood of pressure or stress comes rushing in, quickly remind yourself of what is in your control and what is not, and remember to say the Serenity Prayer.
Alexandar Dolin is a Board Certified Advanced Christian Life Coach through the International Christian Coaching Association (ICCA), Alex Dolin is the Founder of Fully Alive Life Coaching and a Christian Stress management and self-care Life Coach. Alex is also a Counselor-in-training and Biblical studies professor with Ohio Christian University. In his free time, he enjoys playing music. He plays guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and drums. Alex also enjoys exercising and baking as and in his free time, Alex volunteers with Kiaros prison ministry and at his church. Visit AlexanderDolin.com.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.