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MY LEADERSHIP TANTRUM LED TO THE MIDDLE FINGER!

By Baskaran Sekaran

by SHELLEY-COX

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Imagine the following scenario: At 6:00 am you wake to find your 6-year old has the stomach flu and you need to be ready for sheet changing and head-holding action. You are scheduled to meet with a major prospective client at 8:30 am for breakfast. You have completed tons of research and preparation since this was a difficult appointment to nail down and you want to be at your best. Your partner is leaving for a week on a business trip and is boarding a plane at 9:00 am. You need assistance. You can feel your neck tighten and your breath quicken. You are feeling a dozen of emotions at once, from frustration to compassion for your sick child. Your inner critique and self -talk may lead you to recall all the other times you had to put family first and not your business. You calm yourself, switch to positive emotions, and call your Mom to come help with your hectic day. As you leave the house you still feel “wound up” but tell yourself it is going to be okay.

The traffic is heavier and you realize an accident has just occurred! You are sure you will never make your appointment. You take a deep breath while looking for your cell phone to call the CEO to inform them you will be late. It’s not there! In your chaotic morning, it was left on the kitchen table. You feel a sense of dread in your stomach as you realize you will be late. You start feeling increasingly overwhelmed! You pound your fist on the steering wheel, cry out in the silence of your car and feel like life is a mess! Your self-talk is jammed with negative thoughts from feeling like a business failure to looking like an incompetent fool. Suddenly, another car cuts you off. You give them an impolite gesture, only to find out it’s your potential client! Yikes! How did you get to this point?

Have you ever been this stressed and overwhelmed? If so, you’ll know that these little tantrums are triggered by real or imagined hot buttons that when pushed lead to knee-jerk reactions. This phenomenon is called an Amygdala Hijack, a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence. He explains that the emotional part of the brain which regulates the fight or flight response can react irrationally when threatened. In a typical response, the prefrontal lobes regulate executive functioning. However, when under pressure, stress hormones flood the prefrontal lobes before they can mediate this reaction. Up goes that middle finger!

You end up saying “How could I have done that, what could I have possibly been thinking?” In reality, you weren’t thinking. You were overwhelmed with an emotional reaction. You were hijacked. One episode of losing control in the wrong situation in the business world can cost you your reputation, profit, and sense of purpose. Repeated episodes can lead to burnout!

Now imagine this type of stress happening over and over, day by day! When this occurs, you are releasing Cortisol, the stress hormone that triggers “fight or flight.” Blood and oxygen flow to the extremities and away from the brain. The long term effects are elevated blood sugar levels, increased bone loss, compromised immune function, decreased skin repair, increase fat accumulation, and destruction of brain cells.

So what do we do about this? There are several tools and coaching techniques we can use. What we do need is a way to measure and train our brains toward CALM Power in our business and life. What I use with my clients is the Social and Emotional Intelligence Profile (SEIP), Click Here to Learn About the SEIP . The SEIP measures what social and emotional skills you already have in your toolbox.

The good news is there is a key technique you can begin using today. In our Calm Power course, we use a Knee-Jerk Notebook which was developed by Dr. Laura Belsten. Try the exercise below and feel free to send me your success stories!

First take a few deep breaths.

1) Slow down to identify your trigger or “hot button”.

2) What are you feeling in your body and where is this occurring? ( For me, it is often in my neck and stomach.)

3) Pay attention to your self–talk: which words or phrases are you saying to yourself?

4) What is your behavioral reaction?

5) How do you feel after you have reacted?

6) What damage was done?

7) What would have been a better response?

8) How would you feel in that case?

Now that you know this simple, yet effective, technique you are one step closer to developing a CALM Power Mindset. Finding a time every day to disconnect from work will help to balance out your emotions. I normally begin the day from a place of calmness by regular exercising, meditating, writing in a journal, and creating a joyful workspace. What strategies work for you?

Learn more about Shelley Cox at www.Shelleycox.ca. I’ll introduce you to 4 Key Leadership MINDSET habits and competencies that will transform your leadership tantrums into CALM Power in order to attract more money, visibility, and business growth.