"Kite surfing Oahu" by Eric Guinther -- Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Several years ago I was on holiday in Egypt. My best friend and I were in Club Med, El Gouna, far away from our stressful jobs in finance. We were having a whale of a time with nine days of sports, fabulous sunshine and lots of delicious food! We both windsurf and thought we'd give kitesurfing a go. It looked like lots of fun, and we were drawn to the multi-colored kites bobbing over the sea, pulling the surfers across the waves.
Every morning, our instructor Osama would pack us, the kites and boards into a speedboat and we'd race across the Red Sea to a lagoon that allowed us to learn safely in shallow water. Osama was always in a good mood. He was an excellent surfer, great instructor and always smiling. At the same time he was so laid back that he was practically horizontal. On land, clients would come to him, who even though on holiday appeared to have brought all their work issues with them. They would be stressed out of their minds trying to schedule their kitesurfing lessons, making all sorts of irrelevant or unreasonable demands. Osama would not even have a feather ruffled while listening to their mini-tantrums. If he could help them he would, and if he couldn't he'd tell them, without getting involved in any histrionics. Similarly at sea, when there were problems in the water with the surfers, he'd respond quickly and efficiently and there would be no fuss or anxiety. The situation would simply be dealt with and any relevant lessons learned.
At one stage my kite started whirling around and around. Upwind from the others, I couldn't hear them calling me with instructions. I was trying hard to untwist it but it wasn't working. Suddenly Osama was behind me and released the kite from my harness. It shot away from us across the water, pulled by the wind and we thought it was lost for good. "That was dangerous," he said, in a serious tone, "a couple more minutes and it would have started to drag you under the water", then calmly took a board and raced over the waves after my flying kite, somehow caught it and surfed back on two kites with a big smile on his face. When he returned he reminded me that preserving my life was much more important than me trying to rescue the kite, and to always remember to release it, if it started to pull me into the water.
Later, at the end of our lessons, we asked him and his colleague. "Don't you ever get stressed? We never see you stressed or worried, you're always taking everything in your stride and just seem completely relaxed and happy". They smiled back at us and said, "Of course we get stressed. We get stressed if someone's about to die".
That really put things in perspective for me and was the best souvenir of my holiday. So next time you are dealing with primadonnas, petty irritations or challenging situations that simply need to be taken control of, I invite you to remember the words of the kite surfers; take a deep breath, smile and continue enjoying your day.
How do you deal with stress?
When feeling stressed what could help you put things in perspective?
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