Loloma Lodge is a beautiful retreat property. Four small cabins and a large lodge built in the 1930’s during the age of FDR rest on the bank of the Mckenzie river. Friends of mine own it. It’s deep in the Willamette forest. In spring fog burns off the mountains throughout the day. Rain turns on and off frequently.

On one trip out I was digging holes to transplant trees. We were building a kind of grove between two properties. As someone who spends much of their life on a computer, digging holes in the wet forest floor was satisfying. There is joy in building, even holes.

Resting after our work, I found myself chatting with Tyron. We talked a bit about how it’s easy to want a better future and how the wanting will take you out of a great moment you’re in. How easy it is to lose what you have as you hope for more.

In the middle of the conversation, he asked me if my work was stressful.

I realized that my stress is less about the pressure of the “job” and more the about the success of what I’m making. Deadlines, client requests and working fast don’t stress as much as they used to, doing good work does.

Of course, some days I’m stressed, when I’m stressed, I try to remember to care about what I’m making. To realign my stress I focus on ideas and product challenges, I remind myself to not stare at myself in the mirror but to look outside of myself.

Caring, Ownership, and Leaders.

Often in the middle of stress, it’s hard to care about your work.

It’s hard to care when you feel like everything is against you, and your work doesn’t matter or have meaning when, or when you think that all your ideas are shot down, or your ideas don’t excite people to action.

Leading a team, project or yourself, you will do your best work if you can be free from the worry of image and status. Instead, focus on caring about the work you do.

You become what you focus on. Look at worry to worry more. Look at work to work more. Don’t look at worry and think your work will improve; it won’t.

It’s not easy to care, but visionary leaders don’t do what’s comfortable.

Good leaders care. Visionary leaders care about their people, customers, and products.

Maybe that’s too high minded, but that’s at least what I hope for in myself and the leaders I work with.

Equip Yourself To Care

It’s easy to say care about what your building and don’t stress about the environment” – it’s much harder to do. And stress will come, the task is to convert the pressure to focus and caring — to not be overtaken by anxiety.

Leaders drive what a team will stress over. I’ve been fortunate to work with many good leaders. Still, I’ve seen too few good leaders equip their teams with autonomy, freeing them to care about their work, not their working status.

I’m convinced caring is an intentional mindset, I hope to be the kind of leader that cares.

Also published on Medium.