Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S4 E13: “Held Up at Gun Point in the Workplace – Stress Management”

“Held Up at Gun Point in the Workplace – Stress Management” Brief Summary:

“I thought it was interesting when the gunman was yelling at the manager to open the safe. The manager stopped and looked at the gunman and said “Relax, just give me a break. I’m trying to open the safe.” I’m thinking at this point, oh my God, he’s going to get shot.”

Stress Management, do you think you have excellent stress management? Or poor stress management? In this Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans podcast episode both Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo recant tales of being in very stressful situations where their lives were on the line, and how they dealt with those situations!


  • Introduction
  • Kyle tells his story of being held up at gun point in the workplace
  • Christopher tells his story of being held up by knife point
  • Stress in the workplace and what happens
  • Negativity is a form of stress
  • Not all stress is created equal

Calls to Action:

Even before the remote workforce evolution, office culture was inherently fragile. After all, it’s made up of imperfect humans interacting with other imperfect humans. And while perfection isn’t the goal, we all secretly wish for a workplace where people find ways to bring out the best in each other. Unfortunately, that’s not always an intuitive skill. It takes guidance, practice, and then more guidance and practice… but with the right leadership, it’s definitely achievable. How do you enhance your workforce’s ability to engage, collaborate, and adapt in this volatile and uncertain reality? Get the answers to your culture questions when you setup a complimentary Discovery Session with Kyle Kalloo at

Not loving your career? Feel you need a change in your job? Let’s Strategize! Book a complimentary Strategy Session with Christopher Lawrence here:

Tell us your “inspired stories” stories by visiting

Christopher Lawrence LinkedIn:

Kyle Kalloo LinkedIn:

Change My Life Coaching & Change My Business Coaching LinkedIn:

Looking to create a corporate coaching culture? Reach out to Kyle Kalloo:


“Held Up at Gun Point in the Workplace – Stress Management” Transcript:

[00:00:00] And I thought it was interesting when the guy was, the gunman was yelling at the manager to open the safe he stopped. And he looked at him, says, relax, just give me a break. I’m trying to open the safe. Right. And I’m thinking at this point, oh my God, he’s going to get shot. Like, it’s just the thought of being imperfect, keeping you from taking act.

Welcome to inspired action for imperfect humans. Each week, we give you real life stories and thought provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions from the heart of Calgary Canada. Here are your hosts award winning coaches, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.

Well, good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Thank you for joining us on inspired action for imperfect humans. Our podcast title that we’ve been doing for four seasons that Kyle cannot remember. I was waiting for it. I was like, he’s kicking this off and I know I’m going to get a jab. [00:01:00] You know what I think the problem is Kyle.

I think that it, it, it it’s like having a gun to your head. You get it, you get pressure where you’re like, I keep screwing this up. I need to get it right. You know, it’s interesting. You just mentioned that about a gun to your head of pressure. I haven’t seen, I had a situation that happened. This was, um, this is the first time in my leadership.

This happened where I was learning. I was at McDonald’s, you know, that’s where I kind of started out my leadership. I worked with a senior manager at the time. And he was . Like, showing me the ropes, uh, to do these things. Now I had the keys, you know what I mean? So I was locking up stuff outside and, oh my goodness.

I remember walking through the cars. I was outside walking the parameter cause we’re about to close. Um, back then McDonald’s did close just before midnight. And I, um, I think I could talk about this. I don’t think there’s an issue here, but anyway, you’re not going to tell me that you had a gun. Okay, hold on.

These two guys had a gun and they were robbing the place, and so they started to point the gun at my manager.
These two guys had a gun and they were robbing the place, and so they started to point the gun at my manager.

Hold on, hold on. So, um, so I walked in, I walked into and I noticed when I was walking through the door, [00:02:00] everyone from the counter was just moving back. Right. They just start to move back from the counter. I thought, oh my God, if someone spills something, cause that’s sometimes happens. You put the drink on the counter, you know, back then you had to do the drink and be moved back.

But what it was is, was these two guys and they had a gun and they were robbing. And so they started to point the gun at, uh, my manager, the manager at the time. Right. And then I saw when the manager, and of course I blanked out a little bit. I don’t even know where we’re going with this podcast, but guys just hold on.

And so, um, and then I saw when the major shock right now, And then they pointed at me, the, the guy, the manager starts coming over to me and then they start to look at me and I’m thinking, what? But what was happening was at the time is I had the keys. So when the guy was saying open the drawer, open the drawers, I had the keys to all the.

Right. So he was saying, I need to get the keys from him to open the drawer. So fair enough. They went through it now. I don’t know I was in shock. I gave the keys. [00:03:00] I was just standing there. We had employees, we had customers on the floor and. After he got the money from the, uh, the cash, the cash drawer, he then demanded for the safe to be open.

So we had to go to the back. So here myself and, uh, the guy went to the back. No, he wanted all the employees, all the people to the back. So we all went to the back by the safe and he start to open. He was trying to open the safe and he had the gun at the manager’s head. Right. And he kept saying, hurry, hurry.

And we were just like, some of it was a shock. Some was crying. Some were just like, they didn’t know what to do. And I thought it was interesting when the guy was, the gunman was yelling at the manager to open the safe he stopped. And he looked at him, says, relax, just give me a break. I’m trying to open the safe.

Right. And I’m thinking at this point, oh my God, he’s going to get shot. Like. It’s going to play out like you seen the movie, but it was something about that, that he just said, guys, relax, I’m going to open it. You already got the money from the drawer. I’m going to give you the money for, I don’t care. It’s [00:04:00] not my money.

I’ll give it to you. Just give me a moment. It’s a combination, you having a gun to my head and you know what? He really control that narrative in that moment because. Okay. And he just stepped back a little bit. And I just thought, even in that moment, he just said, let’s just bring the level down. Let’s just calm it down.

So of course the guy got the monies even took the loonies and stuff, right. In quarters, I’m thinking who’s robbing a place to take the coins, but anyway, desperate times. And then he put us in the walk-in as a, is a walk-in cooler. Right. So that’s where we keep all the other like lettuce and cheese and milk and all that stuff.

So we were brought into the cooler. Christopher. We were terrified. We were, emotions were all over the place and the managers just turned to us as we were being locked into this cooler. He said, listen, guys, relax. We’re all. Okay, look, they got the money they’re going to leave. Let’s just relax. We’re going to be okay now.

I don’t know if that was true, but I believed him [00:05:00] in that moment. I believed him and, you know, just feel a sense of call. No kidding. You know, it’s interesting. I, so I was actually held up at knife point, uh, just walking down the street. So people want to know where we live, but these did not happen in the same cities.

Right. But, uh, but yeah, it was held up in life point, just walking down the street, but I didn’t have anybody. And it’s amazing how, when you’re in a high stress moment, Like for me, I was kind of looking at like, can I run? Can I run? Cause I knew like I was very slight and I’m like, I’m not going to be able to, how to a beat.

Like, I’m not going to be able to fight these guys. Like that’s not gonna happen. Right. My side two guys. Yep. And you were just walking. I was just walking away from the C train station. And they, uh, they, yeah, they ran up behind me and kinda, uh, held me at knife point and kind of took some of the items I had on me.

I was actually held up at knife point.
I was actually held up at knife point.

And it was really interesting because I, um, [00:06:00] in hindsight, I could see where they were flexing a bit and testing their own. Bravery with it. But I only know that now because of how much I study human behavior. And I think a lot about what happened to my own mind in that moment. And I think that when people are stressed out, they think that they’ll, it’s like, well, I would do this.

If that happened, I would do that. If that happened. And it’s like, let me tell you something. If you got a knife or a gun in your back, you do not know what you’re doing. Like, I I’ll just tell you that much, but I think about it a lot. Like I think about if this was to happen again in my life, what would I do?

Right. Would I be compliant or would I not? And I just don’t like, I don’t know the answer. Right. Like I, I think it would be different if it was a gun versus a knife. I was looking for a place to run. Um, but because there were two of them and it was interesting. I don’t even know if they knew that they were doing it.

One stayed behind me the whole time, but the other one was always in my line of [00:07:00] sight. So wherever I looked he’d stand in front. So I realized in hindsight it was a psychological barrier. So it’s like, don’t go there, don’t go there. Right. It’s almost like defensive driving, which is another really stressful situation in defensive driving.

They often. Kind of point their finger and it’s like, it’s like, look over there, look over there. Right. And so it’s, it’s kind of a, you know, instead of like at the thing that you’re heading towards. So I think it’s a really interesting kind of thing about how our brains, um, manage in extreme stress. Oh yeah.

Cause like I said, even in that, uh, gunpoint thing, some people were crying. Some people were numb. Some people you can see anything. Some people were just confused. Some people just remember. I think I was just taking it all in, you know, and in all honesty, because like I said, I see, I remember a lot of the movements.

I know what we debriefed after, but in that moment I was really checking on him, but I was really [00:08:00] drawn to the, the level of confidence. The senior manager had, right? Like in that moment he really command and control the situation. Even if it may have been perceived that he had no control. He did for the fact that him to turn around and say to that person, you know, they’re an interesting enough to senior, like the store manager was there at the time.

Like she came on, um, a little bit later, so she happened to be there. And, uh, of course you expect that she was going to take more control. Right. You know, she wasn’t like, even though she is the most, most rank person there in that moment, she was the quietest. She was like, stunned. Like we had to call her a couple of times.

I had to say, Hey, go this, Hey, come here, go do like you could tell, like, it’s just so to your point, you actually don’t know. And sometimes it’s not even. Right. There’s times of people will step up. Right. Uh, and to be able to do that now, here’s, what’s interesting about that situation. So although we went through that and all that stuff, we, they [00:09:00] did end up catching the robbers.

Cause I know some people may be wondering, like, what happened? It didn’t catch mine to my knowledge. They didn’t, they never came back to me to tell me they did, but I suspect they didn’t see it. Yeah. So they did this guy, the same group of guys. Just a couple of minutes down the road when to hold up another KFC.

Now that owner was a little bit smarter. They had cameras, silent alarms, they had everything. So by the time they got out of the KFC, they got them. So that’s where we’re hitting now. Christopher, we had to go to court. Okay. And both the senior manager and I had to testify. And they brought us into this room before we had to testify in court and they showed us some pictures.

The senior manager, he picked out two people who he thought it was.
The senior manager, he picked out two people who he thought it was.

Right. And they said, pick, can you pick out the guys and blah, blah. Cause at this point we hadn’t, we didn’t do a lineup. We had to pick up the speaker. So I picked out two people who I thought it was. And again, the senior manager, he picked out two people who we thought it was now him and I couldn’t see each other.

So. He, you know, I had to go first, then he would go after me. So he wasn’t in the courtroom now because I’ve testified I could stay in the courtroom. So I did, so I testified, I [00:10:00] pointed the guys and they didn’t ask me much any questions outside of just pointing at the guys. And what do I remember? How.

Plain and simple. Right? So the senior manager now comes in and he’s testifying. He talks in great details. Great assurance almost to the point where he’s like upset that I can’t believe this even happened. Right. And so the, the defense lawyer came and said, could you point out of the two guys? And so he pointed, he goes, those two guys sitting right there next to you.

Right. And he said, well, that’s interesting. And he calls his name. He says, the two pictures that you picked out are not these guys. Well, my God, Christopher, the guy said, listen, I don’t care what that is. And it wasn’t two, eight by 10. That robbed me. It was those two guys that robbed me right. Entire court burst out in laughter.

And the judge like. He was like, well, that’s true though, because people, I mean, if people are like, well, it’s a very poor defense actually, because I mean, girl, how many [00:11:00] times when you’re on Tinder do see somebody’s photo, then you go meet them. This is not whose picture this, how to spell my own photos. And I’m like, geez, I look better than I do in real person.

No, it was a, it was an interesting reflection. And I think the guy, the defense was so stunned that everyone started to laugh, that the judge had tonight. He does his thing and he’s like, okay, order, just hang out. You know what I mean? And the, the, you could tell the defense lawyer was so stunned. He had to say, um, I have no further question.

And so the prosecution then comes back and says, can I ask you some additional questions? Right. But cause that’s really what it is because how powerful that is, right. When the guy’s like, I don’t know what to tell you. It wasn’t two, eight by 10 that robbed me. It was those two. Right. So it just makes like, for him, his clarity and focus was astonishing.

And so I [00:12:00] never will forget that, that, that lesson that day, um, and days prior to that, just how he handled himself. Right. Just how clear he was. How, um, my, my friend, Sarah, this was, this was kind of her dad, right? So it’s like, as like he had a high amount of stoicism, uh, when it came to work stuff and family stuff, and it was just like, you know, they’re Muslim.

Uh, oh, what’s the phrase. I can’t remember what it is, but there’s a phrase that basically says whatever will be, will be right. So, uh, uh, I can’t remember. We, I know we have some Muslim listeners, so maybe they can help me, um, say that phrase, but basically it’s like, um, uh, basically it means whatever will be, will be coming from a third world country and seeing some of the horrendous things that he saw workplace stress.

Literally had no effect on him. It just, he’s just like, whatever, you know, like when you see people like literally being killed or shot or whatever, you know, it’s just like, [00:13:00] whatever’s gonna be, is going to be right. So I think it all comes from like your own bias. I think if we bring this back to some of the workplace stuff, Kyle, like I think this is such a really cool story and it leads into some of this thing about stress in the workplace and what happens.

So, so I think. I’ve got two things that I want to talk about here, if that’s okay. One is kind of long-term brain changes. So there is evidence that chronic and persistent stress may actually we rewire your brain and cause ongoing inflammation. So this is super important. This comes from Dr. Wrestler. This is out of Harvard.

Okay. Um, Harvard health. So scientists have learned that animals that experienced prolonged stress have less activity in the parts of their drain. Uh, sorry, parts of their brain that handle higher order tasks, for example, prefrontal cortex. So if you’re under high stress and then you don’t know why you keep forgetting things, why you’re making poor decisions while know risk taking [00:14:00] is all messed up or whatever it’s because you’re under chronic stress.

Negativity is a form of stress.
Negativity is a form of stress.

And so basically it’s kind of like if, and, and, and what you end up activating more often than that stress is your amygdala, right? So this is kind of like, if you only worked out your arms in the gym, but you didn’t work out your chest or back, you would have monkey arms, but you’d have this tiny little concave chest.

I actually saw this at the gym one. So it brings a visual where this guy, like, honestly, he, he, he had massive. But he never worked out his chest at all. And it was like, he looked so weird. Right. So poor guy. Right. But he looked good with a shirt on, uh, you know, now with that said, could that be the same stress and negativity?

Cause you find that sometimes. Okay. But here’s the thing. Okay. I want to be really careful negativity. It is a form of stress. It is a form of stress, but it’s important to remember that negativity is not all bad. And I think that we do live in a world that says negativity is all bad. I don’t think negativity is all bad.[00:15:00]

I think it’s well, it’s about the recognition of the negativity and not avoiding it. And then, and then I’m sitting with it and being okay with it and, and maybe even taking an action on it, but not necessarily where negativity becomes a problem is that it can turn into ruminating and ruminating is often because there’s something that’s unresolved.

And then typically when we’re ruminating, instead of sitting in it, we want to avoid it. So then we just get stuck kind of almost in a neural feedback loop. So it’s really important that people, um, differentiate those things. So, so, um, They do suspect that these changes in the brain are reversable, but it can be more difficult to reverse and others.

So this means that some people will be more prone to stress, uh, and staying in that chronic stress. So those of us who have. Uh, stressful childhood experiences, uh, will often take on more of a toll in developing the brain in that chronic stress pattern. So it’s [00:16:00] not that it’s undoable, but it just takes a little bit more work for those of us that have had that.

Um, one of the things that’s attached to this actually is about how well you can remember it. And so for me, that’s really problematic because it’s like, I remember like specific details about my childhood and, and they say, even if it’s. You know, even if your brain is filling in the gap and it’s not accurate, it’s still, it’s just the way your brain is wired.

So, so interesting. So the other part of this is that, um, there. Uh, not all stress is created equal. So this is what Dr. Ressler says. It’s a tough question because stress is a broad term. That’s used to describe a lot of different things that stress you might experience before you take a test is very likely different than the stress of being involved in a car accident or from a prolonged illness.

But they can say that more stressed is likely worse and long-term stress is generally worse than short-term. So here’s some additional [00:17:00] factors that might be more harmful. If stress is unpredictable, then, then that will, um, create, uh, Uh, a more harmful effect on the brain. If someone can anticipate stress, it’s less damaging than stress.

That appears to be random. This is why some people, um, have what we call like an adjustment disorder. Right? So basically it’s like people who have a hard time with last minute change it’s actually because their brains are wired in a stress state. They’re wired in a stress state already. And so when we add more unpredictable stress, even if it’s a small change, they have a really hard time adjusting to it.

Exactly. Yeah. And that’s the other thing too, is when people go to the workplace and they’re like, I have a colleague or leader who are like, oh, I wonder what he’s going to blow up about today. I wonder what she’s going to complain about with what, [00:18:00] right that unpredictableness. Right. Whether they’re like, they know like something’s going to happen to some degree or they may not know.

When it’s going to happen, which is calls could be also stressful. Right. Um, until you get to a point where they just snap, right? Yeah. Agreed. So there’s, uh, there’s another factor, uh, if there’s no time limit on the stress. So like, if you’re stressed out about a presentation or an upcoming exam, that has a point where, you know, it will get relief.

Right. But if the stress has no end point, so like, if you’re constantly stressed about finances or deal with. Um, people at work that makes it harder, uh, which is why I think it’s important that people put their own end date on things like I’m going to leave this job, or I’m going to go in and I’m going to rip the bandaid off of this coworker who is moderately abusive and say, you’re not going to treat me that way.

The idea is to get through the stress.
The idea is to get through the stress.

So if you need to fire me or if you need to punch me in the face, let’s get this over with. Right. But the idea is [00:19:00] the idea is to actually get through stress. Um, and, and if people don’t feel supported during this. Um, lack of support, w we’ll make it chronically. Yeah. So I think if, you know, when I think about, um, the inspired action for this week, just based off our situation that we were talking about of, you know, cause those were stressful situation.

These are sometimes chaotic moments that happens, you know, in our work or in a home is what I’m hearing is we need to be mindful that one, you know, what type of stress is happening? Am I even stressed? Right? Because as you know, with me, most of my stress, I feel. Right. Days where I start complaining about headaches and my body.

And you’re like, are you stressed about something? And usually it’s in those moments where I’m like, why would I be stressed about, and then I do that awareness piece on like, right. This has been stressful all week. So in, in another Harvard, uh, health article, Kyle, they suggest five things about kind of getting [00:20:00] stress under control.

And this is the name of the game. Um, so. So this article, by the way, because people are going to want to see it. It’s called, um, protect your brain from stress, stress management may reduce health problems, linked to stress, which include cognitive problems and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

So, yeah, so it’s, they’re really connecting it to that inflammation piece. So, um, the first thing is establishing some control over your situation. Situation. So having a routine is good for development and health. Um, and certainly we’re removing some of those stresses stressors that are unnecessary. We talk about this a lot as business owners, we talked about it a lot in the workplace, um, as well, getting a good night’s sleep so stress can result in, uh, sleep difficulties

so focusing on ways that you can get. How helpful sleep will, uh, will help. I have that this morning, I woke up out of bed sleep. I went right back to bed. I just did my day. Right. Uh, getting organized. [00:21:00] So, so having, having lists, um, knowing what’s in your day, making sure that you’re booking time in your day with nothing that you can just do, whatever you want with is really key.

A strategic leader does a lot with this as well, just in terms of like, um, buffer days and that kind of thing. And, um, uh, getting help if you need it. So, so whether it’s a psychologist or something else, uh, to help reduce stress and then changing your attitude towards stress. So there’s an interesting quote, right?

A life without stress would not only be impossible, but also would likely be pretty uninteresting. Uh, in fact, a certain degree of stress is helpful for growth. So. And this is from Dr. Wrestler. So rather than striving for no stress strive for healthier responses to stress, right? So when stress comes finding new ways to respond to it, even that last piece that you just mentioned, as I looked back at that situation, I experience, and I’m not sure if that’s the same for you with a knife incident as well.

[00:22:00] I, you know, I learned a lot in that night, you know, same few things after a lot about myself and people slowly, right. How I responded to it right. To know that I made it out. Right. So I can accomplish certain things I can get out of those things. It’s possible. It’s not everything is doom and gloom. Right?

Cause sometimes if someone sees a gun or a situation, they think everyone’s dead. And again, there’s been experiences where that has happened. Um, however, in my leadership, right, what type of leader I want us to be more, uh, about, which is, you know, like this or the senior manager, he was concerned about himself as well as other things.

Right. But he really wants to say, okay, let these guys move out. Right. Those are some of the other details that I mentioned. He’s like, let them all come back over here. Right. And even offer it. Why? Because we knew that we can get out of the cooler. So that was his suggestion of why don’t we just go all in the cooler, that way we can lock in the, no, one’s going to do that.

And so he did that to allow us, because we know once we in the cooler and we showed them how to lock it, there’s a release. Once you hit that [00:23:00] release, the door opens. Right. So we knew that would be okay, but the guy robbing the place didn’t know. Right. So we wanted him to feel safe that he can get away so to speak.

Right. Because what’s more important for us to take him down or for us to survive this piece. Yeah. The money is irrelevant. Yeah. The stuff I had was irrelevant. Anyway, this is great. I love those five things. So guys for, um, you know, for folks listening to us right now, thank you again, always for your support.

You know, if this is something that you struggle with or, you know, someone who does share this podcast, let us know, let us know if we miss something or if there’s some additional things that you do to manage your stress. Because again, sharing is definitely caring because we all would experience stress at some level, either at work with our friends, with our relation.

And the more we know the betterness, we’ll see you next week. It’s our goal to build a global community of inspired action takers, and we can only do that with your help. [00:24:00] So if you love inspired action, please leave a review on your favorite podcasting app and share a signer socials you’ve heard from us.

Now we want to hear from you go to inspired action and tell us what is the inspired action you took this week next week on inspired action for imperfect humans. And the other thing too, is when we talk about challenge and I’ll tell you from my experience, when a leader hears you want to be challenged without definition or specificity, or you being really clear on it, it says to them you want more work.