Jeff asks, “How about something on Real Men and nervous energy? The kind you have when something is about to happen and there is nothing you can do to speed it up or to change it.”
This is a tough one for me as I’m not sure I’m very good at handling nervous energy, though I think I know what a real man does with it. In my mind, a real man does one of two things with nervous energy… but I’m also sure there are a lot of other possible ways to handle it.
A real man either channels his nervous energy into something productive or, realizing there’s nothing he can do to change what’s coming down the pipe, he simply practices the old school art of kickin’ it.
What do I mean by these two statements?
As for channeling his nervous energy into something productive, I’ve personally found no better fuel for getting things done and accomplishing small tasks than a good ole fashioned heaping dose of nervous energy. When I’m waiting on something to happen, whether it’s the birth of my daughter or the start of my Ph.D. program, I find that I’m uber productive in those tasks that require very little cognitive effort on my part. Deleting old emails, cleaning up around the house, organizing my garage, rearranging the layout of my desk at work, mowing my grass, etc. all come VERY EASILY when I’m experiencing a lot of nervous energy.
I’ve also found that when I’ve got a lot of nervous energy, it helps if I engage in some type of physical activity. For instance, yesterday morning (the morning of my first day of class), I got to work feeling a little bit of nervous energy about my upcoming foray back into the world of graduate studies after a 4-year hiatus. So… instead of walking up to my office, I just decided to take a walk around campus. Since my first job in higher education was in Housing and Residence Life, I found myself meandering down to the dorms. Not only was it was good to get out and move around, but it was also a very calming experience to reflect back on my days as a dorm supervisor and why I got into this business in the first place.
Which brings me to my next approach for dealing with nervous energy: the old school art of kickin’ it. Sometimes the best thing for a man to do when he’s got a lot of nervous energy is to simply escape to somewhere quiet and familiar. For me yesterday morning, that place was around the dorms of the university I both attended as a student and where I first fell in love with working in higher ed.
At the same time, the old school art of kickin’ it doesn’t necessarily have to involve escaping somewhere quiet. Sometimes, the best way to handle nervous energy is to simply be around friends and forget about it.
Though this next statement is a bit strange on the surface, I wholeheartedly believe it’s true. Sometimes the best way I know to handle nervous energy is to do something that typically energizes us. If that means being around people, a real man will put himself around people. If that means spending time in solitude and quiet reflection, a real man will put himself in a position to do that.
No matter how each of us deals with the nervous energy that we all inevitably deal with from time to time, I think what sets the real men apart from the boys in this area is that sense of self-awareness that tells him A) the root of his nervous energy and B) that he needs to do something about it.