This morning, I got incredibly frustrated. I’m normally a very patient person, but my oldest daughter put me over the edge. The way she was talking to her sister, and responding to me and my wife, put me in a state where I had the potential to say something I would regret.
I normally don’t get like this, and am able to manage my emotions incredibly well. But, for whatever reason, her behavior, and my state at the time, were such that I would be disappointed with myself if I didn’t remove myself from the situation.
I told my wife I was going to lose it, and went outside to shovel the driveway (something that is rarely on the top of my list of things to do, but needed to be done for my own sanity.
So, I went out, spent a while shoveling the driveway, came back in, and was calm enough not to do something that I knew I didn’t really want to.
In our personal lives and our professional ones, it is a necessity that we recognize those trigger points; those situations where we know we are going to be pushed too far, and where if we aren’t careful, we can represent ourselves in ways that we don’t believe truly echo who we are, and what we believe in.
And, along with recognizing those trigger points, we have to be capable of understanding a response that will allow us to move past them, and bring us from about to lose it, to cool, calm, and collected.
For me, one of the most helpful ways to recollect myself when I feel my temperature rising, is to take a walk, or do something physical. Shoveling the driveway was exactly what I needed to calm myself down. In the rare situation where I find myself losing control at work, a brisk walk is enough for me to readopt a level head.
It would be unfair to say that as leaders we must never have emotional responses. But, it is a necessity, that as leaders, we understand what primes us for our emotional responses, and that we know how to best deal with them, so we can lead as effectively as possible.