My straight face was often the butt of jokes when I worked in the restaurant industry. In the fast-paced, high stakes and overstimulating environment that is a restaurant or bar, you have to act like nothing is surprising.

  • An elderly gentleman making an inappropriate remark about your looks?
  • A woman explaining why this piña colada is the “worst thing” she’s ever tasted?
  • A toddler shredding everything in its grasp while the mom scrolls through facebook?
  • Someone stiffing you on a tip?
  • A team of 50+ from a youth soccer tournament walks in without a reservation?

I learned–and quickly, that you’ve got to rock that straight face. Bonus points if you can slap a smile on and cruise through until quitting time. Even when the world is crumbling around you, a straight face is the best armour. Giving yourself time to process things before jumping to a reaction is top-notch strategy. Even if the five-alarm bell is clanging in between your ears, grasp that straight face. Buy yourself some time before anyone else knows you’re panicking, and you’ll usually find that the panic melts away.

Catch the fear and adrenaline and channel that into a plan. Swim to shore and take a breathe. I learned this early, and I use it often.

This week is shaping up to be a very challenging and important one in my professional life. When this weekend approached, I was feeling uneasy and nervous at what I was facing. Now I’m excited.

Difficult work makes us better. This time next week, I will be better than I am now.

Today I am grateful for all of the challenges in my life. Without them, we would simply sail through, barely feeling, noticing, or witnessing anything.