Onomastics is the study of names. Often, there is a revealing correlation between the person and that person’s name, and, if studied carefully, the connection might enlighten us as to many characteristics of that person. James Joyce, in his book, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, uses two names for the young man in his story: one from mythology and the other from the Bible. Around his name, the entire story is built, and upon further examination, the name echoes the life of the young man, and in turn, the author.
The young boy in the story is named Stephen Daedalus.
Stephen is a Biblical name. One readily remembers Stephen as the only follower of Jesus who was martyred.
Daedalus is a mythical name. As an ancient Greek artificer, Daedalus was assigned to build a maze for King Minos. The maze was complicated and confusing. When Daedalus finished, he found he had enclosed himself inside his own labyrinth and was trapped together with this son, Icarus. Desperate, Daedalus created, out of wax, two pairs of winds for them to fly above the maze and be released from their prisonlike confinement. However, he warned his son not to fly too high, as the sun would melt the wings.
Icarus, young and impetuous, was excited about flying and filled with a sense of power, disregarded his father’s admonition and, in youthful exuberance, soared too close to the sun, only to have his wings melt away. He plunged helplessly into the sea.
Joyce’s life story duplicates much of the story of Daedalus and Icarus. He casts off his family and social influence and abandons his parent’s religious constraints, determined to live his life on his own terms. Through the various vicissitudes of life, he falls into despair and soon realizes the error of his ways and, in essence, plunges into the metaphorical sea.
The reader compares the experience of both Stephen in the Scriptures and Icarus in the myth with Joyce’s hopes of building wings (not made of way) on which to fly above the labyrinth of his confining youth.
This is Joyce’s story. It is not uncommon for a son or daughter to live out the name given them at birth, especially if it is a family name of prestige and distinction. Some carry the name with pride and commitment. Others, like Icarus, rebel and resent their names and live a life counter to the family’s teaching legacies. We are as much our name as we are a member of a family. We live as a mirror reflecting that name or as an outsider denying it.
In Joyce’s book, when Stephen finally comes full circle back to himself, to personal freedom, he announces, “Welcome, O Life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and go to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscious of my race.”
None of us are responsible for our names. They were given to us. However, we are responsible for living up to that name, for forging for ourselves, in the smithy of our souls, characteristics that honor and reflect that name.
Stress is the single biggest contributor to;
-Poor sales results
-Less market share
-Poor and inconsistent communication
-Conflict in relationships
-Poor customer loyalty
And a whole lot more!
Stressors are normal in everyone’s life but what we need to remember is that stress is what is happening to us from circumstances or people but the ultimate internal impact of these events, people or circumstances is up to us.
Ultimately the impact of stress is not what is happening but how we choose to respond or to react to these circumstances, people or situations – that is within our control.
Everything causes stress;
-Winning the lottery
-Losing a job
-Losing a loved one
-The birth of a child
-Waiting in line
Need I go on?
Everything is a stressor but there are positive stressors as well as negative ones. The key element to understand is that the body reacts the same to both – it doesn’t distinguish between the positive stressors or the negative ones in our life. The body and unconscious mind don’t judge but the conscious mind does and when the mind interprets something as negative it creates negative emotional and physical consequences. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, regret, grief, despair, discouragement or fear – the conscious mind causes the body to defend itself by going into one of three stages – fight, flight or freeze.
Ulcers are not caused by what you eat but what is eating you. Changing your diet can help but changing your thoughts and mental reactions will.
The secret to greater happiness, increased success, improved performance or productivity or contentment and inner peace in life is to learn to better manage the internal mental impact of these outside-in triggers or events.
There are four internal causes to the negative interpretation of stressors and three external ones. The internal ones are all related to each other in some way, but in the end whichever dominates a person’s life will tend to increase the others. Yes, there are many more, but these are the critical or essential ones. I will briefly discuss these and how they impact stress.
The external factors;
Management style – Heavy top-down, arrogant or ego based management styles tend to contribute to increased employee stress due to a lack of employee empowerment, decision making, negative motivational climate, inadequate recognition and appreciation, inconsistent or unclear direction, and poor or inconsistent employee validation.
When management is out of touch with reality they tend to lead and or manage from their own top-down perspectives and fail to hear or heed bottom-up recommendations, suggestions and creative solutions or ideas from those who are closer to the issues, challenges and organizational or market reality conditions.
Corporate culture – Corporate culture is created top-down and lived bottom-up. Culture permeates every area of an organization, department or level. Every organization can have multiple cultures driven by the department heads or managers i.e. the culture in the sales department can be different than the one in finance. The culture in manufacturing can be different from that in the distribution area. But in the end all of these unique group cultures are driven by the overall or larger corporate culture but they can often be contrary or inconsistent with the corporate culture therefore creating confusion, dysfunction and often chaos.
The economy – The economy is never certain as it is driven by numerous global factors but in the end, if an employee feels any career or position uncertainty caused by their organization’s relevance, direction or purpose or mission in a current economy they will operate from a position of – circle the wagons and don’t take risks or chances – follow the rules no matter what even though they may not be working or appropriate.
The internal factors –
Self-esteem – Self-esteem is simply how you describe yourself or your self – attitudes, definitions or rationales. People with low self-esteem tend to let circumstances or other people determine how they will act or react. They need other’s approval and often appreciation to function. When these are missing they will take personal blame and responsibility and tend to let them increase their inner turmoil and therefore stress.
Fear – There are only two primary emotions – love and fear. All other emotions are offshoots of these. Regardless of what is happening in your life or career you will always come from one of these two perspectives. And guess which one will dominate your attitudes, emotions, feelings and reactions the majority of time? Fear. When people operate from a fear perspective they feel out of control and uncertain and these just add to the negative impact of stress on a person’s mental state and consequently their actions, decisions and behavior in general.
Impatience – I need it now. I want it now. I deserve it now, etc. Technology is rapidly contributing to people’s impatience. Impatience is simply the need for control of every aspect of your life. There is actually very little we can control in life, but the impatient person doesn’t seem to get this fact. They believe that life should revolve around them and that circumstances, desires and needs and people and life should accommodate them and what they want and when, how and why they want it. Since this is not how the world works, these people are setting themselves up for disappointment, frustration and stress.
Expectations – The primary cause of all disappointment in life are unrealized expectations whether they are mature, ego driven or represent the need for control. Expectations are rooted in what you want and when, how or why. When you expect something regardless of its purpose, desire or need in your life and it doesn’t happen you have two choices – blame, complain or whine or let it go and move on.
Let’s wrap it up. Stress kills people but on the way to their deathbed as employees they fail to bring imagination, creativity, motivation, hard work and overall effectiveness and positive common sense solutions to their position or roles or responsibilities whether they are the CEO or the Janitor.