This is an age old adage which is nowhere truer than in the area of stress. Stress is a term borrowed from engineering where it has a definition in respect of another value called strain. Hooke’s Law says that Stress is proportional to Strain. Strain is the relative change of shape or size of an object due to externally applied forces. Stress is the internal force associated with strain.

What this is telling us is that stress is an internal response to external conditions and forces, a very useful distinction when most people consider themselves as failures when the strain gets too much.

So what can anyone do to reduce and relieve stress? Of course there are things you can do to support the body and its response to stress. Such things I’m not going to deal with here, because I want to deal with the management of strain, the external forces that are the precursors for stress.

When we deal with stress it is an internal state of being, and reduces the causes down to a limited set of “health” parameters. Health, as a term, has been dramatically reduced to mean the homeostasis of the physical body, and perhaps including the emotional and mental conditions. However, if we increase the definition of health to include other external events and circumstances we include the causal states of strain.

For example, for a lot of families that have undergone separations there are ongoing family disputes, who will take the children for Christmas, who will transport them between houses, and so on. Included in this might be financial health, who is going to pay, which presents will be better? Who will be better?

Then there’s the relationship arena just waiting to erupt. Do I have one? What’s wrong with me/with them? Even if I do have a relationship is it good enough? Am I giving/taking too much? Should I want as much/give more sex? Is there something wrong with me if I don’t orgasm every time? The whole area is a can of worms unless you keep the lid on it tightly.

Am I progressing enough in my career, should I expect/demand more? Am I doing enough? And on it goes. Over many years I’ve learned that many people are racked with self-doubts or perhaps over-confidence unmatched by others. There are other areas that are the source of strain of course.

sysrepWe’ve all heard a lot about setting goals and planning and there are very good procedures for doing this. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-based. NLP has its Well-formed Outcomes model with its inbuilt measures. There are at least another six models that are used, Vision-Based or Goals-Based Strategic Planning, Issues-Based Planning, Alignment Model, Scenario Planning, “Organic” (or Self-Organizing) Planning, and Real-Time Planning.

Being on the outside is the best place to view, plan and manage strain which is why Life-Coaching has become so popular. There are many schools and styles that have developed recently too. In the Life-Coaching field there is a distinction between those who are looking for change and improvement and those who are resistant to change and need therapy.

Coaching clients are a joy to work with because they naturally have the three qualities of the new paradigm; Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency.

RAT diagramW. Edwards Deming was one of the few men to single-handed changed the world. Few people have even heard of him, but when its mentioned that he transformed Toyota to the world’s leading car manufacturer and with it Japan’s financial model it is clear that something radical happened. The radical change was the introduction of Total Quality Management based on Deming’s 14 points of Quality, which he later introduced as the Theory of Profound Knowledge.

I have remastered Demings 14 points as a model for personal achievement called the “Quality for Life” programme.

You can try out my Recovering Personal Power process from this link: R-P-P-P

Ask me for more details if you are interested. Email:

©Francis Evans 1997