It’s 4 am and the coffee and energy drinks you ingested yesterday are only aiding in the sleeplessness that seems to mock you as you stress over the looming pitch deadline. As you finally begin to wake from those too few hours of sleep, your mind wanders over all the things that could go wrong, and what you might be missing.
As you get ready and prepare to leave, you’re openly distracted as the kids chatter about playtime at school and your spouse reminds you to finalize the weekend plans.
The smile you slap on as you step off the elevator only lasts until the first repeat question about status update minutes prior to the meeting you’ve called to update the status. The tension at the meeting is palpable and everyone is exhausted and lacks enthusiasm. The energy is toxic and this is going to fall apart if you don’t get a grip.
Stop freaking out, pull yourself together and arm your team with the tools to Keep Calm and Pitch On.
Lighten Up. Make some jokes about the stress you are under. It shows your vulnerability with regards to experiencing this emotion out in the open and it makes it OK for the team to feel the same. You are in this together, stress is inevitable, but how you take action to redirect that energy into a more productive vibe is key. Latch on to comments or actions that bring laughter during the process. Keep it as a consistent part of the day-to-day workflow to bring genuine smiles back to the faces that might be losing it. The emphasis here is on authenticity. There is nothing worse than having to fake laugh at your boss who thinks they’re hilarious or who mandates “fun” exercises. Cultivate an environment that encourages fun and laughter but let it happen naturally within the group and embrace it when it comes.
Move Yourself. The human body is a perpetual motion machine. We all know we should be getting regular exercise but that shouldn’t be limited to sweating it out before or after work. Get up and go outside for some of that good stuff - fresh air. Don’t let a challenge or setback spiral out of control by fixating on it. Walk away. Do a few jumping jacks in the bathroom stall, whatever it takes, move your body and calm your mind. Get your body away from your desk and your mind away from your tasksevery day, multiple times a day, and especially in high-stress times.
Time Out. When you feel that dreaded stress gaining control of you or the team take a break, pause, and mentally revive yourself. Take your mind off things, give yourself a little time to meditate, move around, and come back with a clear mind. You will be more productive. Remember we are already breathing all day long so you don’t need anything fancy to up the intensity for a few breaths. Simply taking three deep breaths with your eyes closed can lift you out of the rabbit hole. Stress reducing apps like Pacifica and Headspace can offer guidance and variety for continued healthy stress management habits.
Get High, off endorphins. A big win deserves celebration with a happy hour or an office lunch, but it’s also important to celebrate completion, delivery, effort, smart thinking and teamwork. Celebrating releases endorphins and we feel good. If we celebrate our hard work and our wins, we are reinforcing behavior that leads to hard work and wins. Moving on to the next project without acknowledging the hard work makes us feel mundane. We are not motivated to repeat behaviors that lead to feelings of mundanity. See the pattern here?
Our culture and our industry are all about growth and success. New business is an essential part of agency existence, but pitching for new business can be a nerve-racking process. Don’t let the strain melt down your mental health and create an unbearable monster rubbing off on those around you. The pitch team, broader agency co-workers, friends, and family can be spared even as you wade through deadlines, last minute changes, and sleepless nights. Show them how you deal with all the pressure by managing your mind properly.
Now that’s winning!