Train Yourself to Stay Calm Under Pressure

Reduce Stress Before It Starts

 

“No other species lives with regret over past events, or makes deliberate plans for future ones.” –Daniel Levitin


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.

9780525954187Ever 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?”

 

Put Systems in Place to Think Ahead

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

 

Listen to this talk, filled with practical tips for organization from a neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin. He also wrote a book expanding on his Ted Talk: The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.

 

“Email, Facebook, and Twitter checking constitute a neural addiction.” -Daniel Levitin

Increase Your Resilience to Thrive in a Turbulent World

Resilience

Increase Your Resilience

Most of us are surrounded by more stress than ever before. It often starts the minute we get up as our devices feed us headlines. Our jobs require instant and continued results, and yesterday’s accomplishments seem to be remembered less and less.

Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston’s new book, Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World, is a thoughtful and inspirational guide to thriving during stressful times. Type R’s use challenges to innovate and grow.

I recently spoke with Ama Marston about her research into resilience. Ama is an internationally recognized leadership expert who has worked on five continents with global leaders. She is also the founder and CEO of Marston Consulting.

 

“And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.” -Barbara Kingsolver

 

You start your new book with a gripping account of a car accident that impacted your lives. How did this awful accident impact your life’s work and result in this book?

For my mother, the process of having to recover from sever injuries and learn to walk again ultimately shaped her path to becoming a psychotherapist and stress expert. I was three at the time, but the accident also forged an even stronger lifetime bond between the two of us.

Decades later that led us to support one another while each of us separately faced the financial crisis as business owners, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, family and health crises, etc. Through ongoing conversations we supported one another and also sought to better understand the convergence of personal, professional, and global turbulence. These challenges were something we were facing ourselves, but that we were each seeing in our respective professions. This was occurring in corporations and in the halls of the United Nations. It was on the minds of our clients and colleagues, global leaders, and our friends and family. So, while it took decades for the impacts of our car accident to come full circle, in some respect it planted a seed for a lifetime of learning about Transformative Resilience together and ultimately collaborating and writing Type R.

 

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” -Albert Einstein

 

Reframe Adversity

The Power of Attitude Choice: My Lessons from the Mall

christmas holiday shopping

Leadership Lessons from the Mall

 

The hordes of shoppers. Some striding with purpose while others aimlessly lollygag. Children lining up to see Santa. Holiday decorations more elaborate than the year before.

It’s that time of the year.

This year, more than ever, you don’t need to venture out to the stores. The online giants are delighted to offer an alternative. A few clicks replace endlessly circling in search of a parking spot and standing most of the day in lines.

I’ve never been one for shopping, malls, crowds, or any of it. It’s far better to avoid it all. I can rewind my own internal tapes and hear my dialogue: grumbling about the parking, the crowds, the waiting, the hassle.

But this year I suppose I feel somewhat nostalgic for it all. So, I do something unexpected and head to the mall.

 

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar

 

Decide in Advance

I decide to enjoy it: the parking, the bitter wind as I leave the car for the store, the mall.

Inside, it’s warm, inviting. The first person I see is there to assist. He’s an older gentleman, kind, not intrusive and with equal doses of friendliness and helpfulness. We talk about his family and his plans to go home for the holidays. Like the song says, “I’ll be home for Christmas!” he says, laughing as much to himself as to me. He’s had some health problems, I learn, and they are behind him now. He’s glad to be back at work.

Classical music is playing and it’s live. I venture over to the piano and, eyeing a chair, slide into it and close my eyes. It’s a medley from the Sound of Music, which conjures up my childhood when we would all gather around for the yearly show on television. I must be getting old, I think, to be sitting here in a mall, listening to music, and not rushing in the least. Opening my eyes, I watch a young mom pushing a stroller. Her baby’s laugh seems to be part of the Sound of Music track.

 

“People may hear your words, but they you’re your attitude.” –John Maxwell

 

I get up and walk through the mall, enjoying the decorations and the energy of the crowd.

17 Benefits of Thankfulness and Gratitude

Thankfulness and Gratitude

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. That usually means overindulging in food, football, and family. It’s also a time to increase our gratitude for the many blessings we have.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

 

For years, I have studied the benefits of an attitude of gratitude. I’m amazed at study after study that demonstrates its incredible power. Gratitude helps us:

  • Reduce depression
  • Get promotions at work
  • Improve our self esteem
  • Increase our energy
  • Develop a strong immune system
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increase sleep quality
  • Reduce and cope with negative stress
  • Eat healthier
  • Have deeper friendships
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve job performance
  • Become more likable
  • Reach goals faster
  • Increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing
  • Reduce negative emotions such as envy, hatred, and anger
  • Increase positive emotions such as love and empathy

There are many ways to increase gratitude in our lives. One of the best ways is to start a gratitude journal.

But, let’s face it: many of us won’t commit to doing that. So, let’s make this simple. Let’s improve our spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude right now, whatever we are doing, wherever we are, even if we are not celebrating Thanksgiving.

Design your own visuals with Venngage Poster Maker.

3 Steps to Boost Thanksgiving

Creating a High-Trust Culture for High Performance

 

How to Increase Trust

 

Why is culture so difficult to change?

Why are so many employees disengaged?

What should a leader do when she arrives at a company that is struggling?

 

The founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies recently wrote a book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies to answer these and other questions. Paul J. Zak, PhD, is also a professor at Claremont Graduate University. He recently answered some of my questions about his extensive research into trust. His book is fascinating and contributes to the body of work on trust and organizational culture.

 

Survey of 200,000 employees: 71% of companies have mediocre to poor cultures.

 

Spot the Signs of a Low-Trust Culture

In one part of the book, you tell a story of walking into an office full of cobwebs, old furniture, and a struggling culture. What are some of the signs of a low-trust culture?

Distrust drains employees’ energy, so people move slow, think slow, and lack a passion for their jobs.  Organizations with low trust also have lower profits, so offices often look out-of-date, even while new employees show up as turnover tends to be high.  We have also shown that people take more sick days when they work at low-trust companies, so one sees empty desks.  All these factors are signs of a low-trust syndrome and a downward cycle of productivity, innovation, and profits.

 

“High-trust companies invest in employee health and productivity.” –Paul J. Zak

 

Why Healthy Cultures are Based on Trust

trust factorWhy is a healthy culture based on trust so vitally important to its success?

Companies are, first and foremost, people. As social creatures, we naturally form teams to accomplish goals together.  Extensive research shows that teams are more effective when they have a clear objective and when team members are trustworthy. Trust reduces the frictions that can arise in teams so getting things done takes less effort and as a result more and better work is done.  By measuring brain activity while people work, we’ve shown that people are more relaxed when they trust their colleagues. They innovate more and shed the stress from work faster than those in low-trust companies.  Creating a culture of trust provides powerful leverage on performance because it harnesses what our brains are designed to do: cooperate with others in teams.  And the neuroscience I’ve done shows how to create a culture of trust in a system so it has the maximum effect on brain and behavior.

 

Workers in high trust organizations are paid an average of $6,450 more.

 

I love the biological explanation of the Golden Rule. Explain the connection between oxytocin and trust.