These are unprecedented times. You have heard this phrase ad nauseam over the past few weeks—and let’s be very clear, they are. You know the world impact in deeper detail than most can even fathom. You know that with every challenge comes an opportunity. That amidst the crisis we are currently facing across the globe, eventually, a shiny silver lining will emerge.
As leaders and global change agents, you sit in positions and have the ability to impact markets and communities directly. Whether through navigating the emotions of change and transition, commerce, financial instruments, or public policy, you are in the position to influence lasting change. As leaders, you set the example and emotional tone in both good times and, perhaps more importantly, in bad. However, in times of great turmoil, leaders invariably find themselves in the midst of enormous psychological pressure. So my question to you is, how are you? What is your current change challenge? Are you equipped to steer your organizations and network powerfully through change? Or, are you simply slogging through what “needs to be done”? Have you taken mental and emotional inventory yet? Are you present to how you are showing up for yourself, your team, family, and friends? Have you even taken a breath or a pause to check in with yourself?
I am an emotional intelligence specialist, founder, and CEO of Live Limitlessly. In my private practice, I bridge individuals and teams to lasting transformation that yields exponential personal growth and elevated EQ, which is a super catalyst for high performance and happiness. Now that we are formally introduced, I invite you to read the following with an open mind and a willingness for introspection. If you accept the invitation, the next few minutes of your time investment will be worthwhile.
The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself, as well as having situational awareness of your own thoughts and triggers, puts you in charge, not your emotions.
Over the past few weeks, clients have come to me with an exponential overload of thoughts, crisis, and transition challenges they are now dealing with from the gravity and responsibility of terminating or furloughing teams, all the way to heightened levels of never before felt anxiety and fear. You may be dealing seemingly well with these increased stressors and new levels of uncertainty; however, it is important to note that others may have different built-in triggers to change, and not all are equipped to deal with these same stressors effectively. If you are not present to what I call the “Two T’s,” your thoughts and your triggers—difficulties can emerge in many different forms across your life board. So how do you discover and be present to your “Two T’s”?
First, you have to understand what they are.
Thoughts are mental cognitions—your opinions, ideas, and beliefs about yourself and the world around you that generate in your conscious mind. They include the perspectives you bring to any situation or experience that inform and color in your reality. Your thoughts impact what and how you feel, and they can trigger a variety of emotional reactions.
Triggers are strong reactions or outbursts that generate from your subconscious mind by a stimulus that sets off a memory tape of associated thoughts and emotions of a past trauma you have yet to process. Once you are triggered, your reactions, behaviors, decisions, and communication style are all produced through distorted filters from that triggered state. By becoming an observer of your “Two T’s,” you can begin to gain awareness of what’s driving you and what it is that you are responding to. Through awareness, you can begin to observe your thoughts as they come into being and choose not to get swept away by them. You can slow your thoughts down and disrupt that pattern of thinking simply by taking a few deep breaths. By doing so, you can then recognize them for what they are: temporary appearances in consciousness. In other words, take the time to become self-aware. This is one of the core components of emotional intelligence. Through self-awareness, you get to examine the effect, the trigger, and the outcome of your emotions that those thoughts were the catalyst of.
The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself, as well as having situational awareness of your own thoughts and triggers, puts you in charge, not your emotions. This is a powerful place as a leader. It is only when you overcome your own pitfalls of the “Two T’s” that you are then able to navigate real change from an empathetic, more effective existence.
After all, great leadership starts with self-awareness.