From the CEO: Moving past stress and excitement

AME | October 8, 2021


When you’re a kid, there are things that you look forward to each year like your birthday or Christmas, or the first day of summer break. As those days approach, you might remember feeling anxious and excited. It might have been hard to focus on other things or to fall asleep at night.

Even as we get older, there are things that make us giddy with excitement or full of nervous energy. I know some people who get this way about an annual vacation, the return of pumpkin spice lattes, and — for those who are young at heart — their birthday or Christmas morning.

Before I became president and CEO of AME, the AME International Conference was always an exciting time when I would get to reconnect with friends in the lean community and learn among a peer group that is dedicated to professional growth that helps their organization continuously improve.

Don’t worry, I’m not making a hard sell for the conference here (that’s what the P.S. below is for!). Instead, I bring this up because, now that I’m employed by AME, I get to look behind the curtain and see the incredible effort, attention to detail, and pride that goes into making these conferences the huge success they are.

In my transition from participant to volunteer to AME leader, something has shifted in why and how I get excited about these conferences. While the volunteer conference committee and AME staff do such a wonderful job pulling everything together, I can’t help but get a little anxious as conference week approaches.

I’m sure this anxious feeling is something you’re familiar with from your own professional life. It’s that feeling you get when you are approaching a deadline, major project milestone, product launch or process rollout. Often, we know that we’ve crossed all our Ts and dotted our Is, but still the nervous energy arrives. It’s only natural.

I’ve found that being mindful of my wellbeing and the wellbeing of others can help set us all at ease. There are many activities that people take on to combat these feelings. Some people exercise, read books, listen to music, go for walks in nature, do the crossword, or myriad other activities. You might even remember that adult coloring book fad from a few years ago. Whatever it might be, find something that gives you a mental break and commit to doing it even as you become busier or stressed.

For me, I like to escape into a good movie with some good popcorn for a few hours. As new movies have returned to theaters and streaming services, I’ve been thrilled to discover new escapes. I also find volunteering — especially with animal welfare groups — helps me stay grounded and focused on the big picture. Beyond that, I’m still completing my daily gratitude reflections that I’ve mentioned here before. Doing this, helps me take a moment to reflect on what’s going on in my world. It is a dedicated time when I can take a few deep breaths and acknowledge what and who I’m thankful for while marking accomplishments and small steps toward my goals.

Perhaps this message is super timely for you having just gone through quarter-end. If you feel that stress or anxiousness, others around you do too! Take time to check in with your team members. Lending your ear will make them feel seen and may provide a psychological boost that you both need.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.


P.S. There’s never been a better time to register for an AME conference. You’ll have the option to bundle your registration to receive unprecedented discounts on the 2021 and 2022 AME conferences. Plus, you can use the code VIPPaul at registration to get a free, autographed copy of Paul Aker’s book 2 Second Lean. Don’t delay! Register now.