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The Power of Losing Control
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The ability to feel confident in our leadership roles takes practice. Why is practicing for leadership so important?
We are biologically designed to access great stores of energy when things matter. It’s how we’ve survived as a species. Life and death circumstances require great forces of presence and action to pull through them.
We obviously don’t face life and death circumstances on a daily basis anymore, but we do face moments that matter to us in our professional lives. Our performance, and the performance of those who are on our team, can have enormous impact on the health and success of our organization. It’s natural that we’d care about the goals and initiatives that we’re responsible for leading. When this sense of caring becomes intense, it can provoke the same energy surges that were initially designed to help us survive in the wilderness.
Human beings haven’t changed much over the course of civilization. More than 2000 years ago the early Greek poet Archilochus observed,
“We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
That’s good news—because if the level of our leadership training is high, we’ll make use of the energy surges we experience under stress to bring out the best in ourselves and others in difficult moments.
With training, we’ll be able to act in ways that line up with our highest wishes for ourselves and for others.
But it’s also bad news—because if the level of our training is low, we’ll pour that same amplified energy into the survival programming that all mammals come with by default.
That survival programming has 3 settings: flight, fight and freeze.
The fact is, when we act as though our survival is at stake, and we do it with a lot of energy, we’re often less than satisfied with the results.
So we’re still bringing the high energy it would take to escape a tiger in the jungle to our everyday challenges.
And if we haven’t trained to channel that energy toward confident action, it’s going to work against us instead of for us.
The relationship between energy and training is shown in the graphic quadrants below.
As you can see in the black quadrant, a circumstance of high stress energy combined with little training gives us the worst result, producing highly unwanted outcomes.
And even in low energy, non-demanding circumstances, a lack of training costs us by producing mediocre and unsatisfying outcomes, as shown in the gray quadrant.
OH NO! —
In important moments we are more likely to get the worst possible result if we haven’t trained for what we want.
With the high energy that comes in stressful or challenging circumstances, however, good training can prepare us for great results (gold quadrant). Even in low energy circumstances we improve our outcomes when we’ve had training.
OH YES! — With training we shine in challenging situations and improve outcomes at other times.
You as a Leader
You’re a thoughtful person with the best intentions and a commitment to your goals. When you’re not under pressure, you can speak and think clearly about those goals.
That’s the real you.
Neurological research, however, has proven the problem explained above.
It's often not the real you who takes action in stressful situations.
It’s your primitive instincts—a part of your cerebral anatomy called the limbic system—that tends to take control of your behavior when you perceive a situation or person as being difficult or challenging.
Some people call this our “lizard brain” and we are neurologically wired to let it take over in the heat of challenging circumstances.
That's not anybody's fault, it's just brain physics.
You’ve experienced these primal reactions first-hand:
If you’ve ever blown up at someone who you actually want to stay close to.
If you've literally dodged someone in public or at work because you had something you didn't know how to work out with them.
If you've remained silent in a situation where you badly needed to speak up.
If you’ve ever jumped to do the bidding of a tyrant when you actually needed to make a boundary.
If you've hesitated to take on a job where you could have really shined and someone less qualified wound up in the role.
These are the kind of moments that most of us wish we could take back and replace with more confident behavior.
The right kind of training makes leadership and confident action in such situations not only possible, but probable.
And that’s exactly what The Power of Losing Control ecourse is all about.
My goal is to help you rise to your best as a leader more often.
Leadership research is clear, the strongest and most successful leaders have let go of the old “command and control” model of leadership and are training themselves to replace authoritarian habits with highly relational behaviors.
Each week I'll share with you leadership-building actions that you can practice in the ordinary flow of your professional life so that you’ll be ready for those moments when stressful and challenging circumstances arise.
Sign up and you’ll receive a new leadership practice action each Monday that you can use to train yourself to respond more effectively in challenging circumstances.
The Power of Losing Control will help you to find your leadership confidence when it counts.
Go ahead and give it a try—and let this be your first bold action on a new journey to a more confident leadership life.
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