We’ve all been there. Just at the worst time, when you have no margin for error, something happens that throws off your schedule or pushes you over the emotional edge. Renowned neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin shares strategies for how to plan for the stressful events in advance and stay calm under pressure.
Ever lose your keys? Can’t find your wallet? (Yes, I am speaking from experience!) The gradual process of an organized home and mind begins by thinking ahead and putting in to practice certain behaviors that eventually turn to habits. Losing keys or reading glasses can be prevented by continuously forming the habit of designating a special spot for each of these items. Having a hook by the door for the keys or a basket on a side table for the glasses will prevent future frustration. Otherwise, under stress, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, clouding your thinking.
“Are there things that I can put in place that will prevent bad things from happening?”
Under stress our brains do not think rationally. By training yourself to think ahead, systems can be put in to place to altogether prevent or at least limit damage. Big decisions, like end of life wishes, can be made years in advance so to avoid decisions made in the heat of the moment. Questions like, do you wish to have a long life and live in pain or a shorter life with better quality, can be planned out with loved ones long before an illness is imminent.
“Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol.” –Daniel Levitin
This is an excerpt from Be Chief: It’s a Choice, Not a Title by Rick Miller. For over 30 years, Rick served as a successful business executive in roles including President and/or CEO in a Fortune 10, a Fortune 30, a startup, and a nonprofit.
Being Chief requires us to develop insight. It is as much about being as it is about being Chief. Insight is a key to increasing your confidence, effectiveness, and, since your power increases as you connect what you do to who you are, deepening your self-understanding through insight will deepen your power. Insight can come from the simplest experiences and from the places you least expect it. Always be on the lookout for gems of insight that can guide your path in life.
There are five ways a leader can learn more about themselves. Specifically, Chiefs choose to be:
Be Present: When you become totally aware and conscious, you can use all of your senses to learn everything possible in the current moment. Specifically, when you give 100 percent of your attention to the people you spend time with, you will find that your relationships become much more fulfilling.
“Insight is the understanding that comes from self-awareness. -Rick Miller
Be Still: Contrary to many Western cultural norms, perhaps our most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that comes with being still. To maintain inner balance, choose the tranquility and peace of stillness. In that peaceful state, you will develop the ability to trust and have confidence in your own voice.
“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen-that stillness becomes a radiance.” -Morgan Freeman
Be Accepting: When you choose to accept people and circumstances for who and what they are, you can escape the frustration of trying to change them. Try to take a nonjudgmental approach to people to open yourself to the potential of clarity and deeper relationships.
When you accept the past and remain receptive to circumstances and people, you can open yourself to the possibilities of learning from all situations and from every individual. When you accept your current reality with a certain degree of detachment, you will find that things come to you with a fraction of the effort otherwise required.
“The power to be Chief is a choice. It doesn’t come from a title-it’s a choice anyone can make.” -Rick Miller
Self-talk is not often covered as a leadership topic, but Erika Andersen cites it as one of the most important skills to master.
Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, a firm that focuses on leader readiness. She’s the author of three other books: Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic, and Growing Great Employees. All of her books are full of actionable advice from her three decades of advising and coaching executives.
I recently spoke with her about her tips to manage our internal conversations.
Leadership Tip: listening and mastering self-talk are critical skills for leaders.
Let’s talk about managing your self-talk. How important is managing self-talk?
Critically important. If I had to name the two most valuable skills I’ve learned over the past thirty years, I’d pick listening and managing my self-talk. It’s enormously powerful to be able to recognize and shift how you’re talking to yourself about yourself and your circumstances. It allows you to have much more control over how you respond to what happens within you and around you.
You give 4 steps to managing it: Recognize. Record. Rethink. Repeat.
Yes, here’s how it works:
Recognize: In order to manage your self-talk, you have to “hear” it. Unless you’re aware of this internal monologue, it’s impossible to change it. For instance, let’s say you’re feeling incurious about something you need to learn. You notice your mental voice saying, This is so boring – I can’t possibly focus on this enough to learn it. Once you start attending to the voice in your head, and recognizing what it’s saying, you can begin to do something about it.
Success Tip: writing down your self-talk is a key part of managing it.