These steps will help you consistently model exemplary leadership.
Your last bulletin encouraged you to be conscious of what’s been tugging at your anxiety-strings and to start reining-in your imagination. It promised you a straightforward, researched, three-step method for zapping your uneasiness and creating calmness. And here it is…
Step 1: Manage Your Physiology
Have you heard the saying that “physiology predicts state”?
Unquestionably, when you adjust your physiology you adjust your emotional state. Check it out:
- Just for a minute, think about something that typically has you feeling anxious
- Notice how your body has manifested the anxiety…
- What happened to your breathing? If you’re like most people, when you got anxious your breathing became more rapid and shallow as your diaphragm tensed.
- Scan your body for other signs of muscle tension. Start at your scalp, move down to your jaw, then your neck, then your shoulders, etc. You’ll probably notice some tight spots.
- How’s your facial expression? How are you holding your head and shoulders? Like a person who’s anxious holds them I expect.
Now, think about how you hold your body when you’re feeling optimistic and self-assured…
- Take some slow, deep breaths. Breathe as you do when you’re feeling optimistic and self-assured.
- Purposefully, relax every single muscle in your body, beginning with your scalp and working down to your toes.
- Deliberately, put a relaxed, warm expression on your face. Let your shoulders drop and hold your head high.
My bet is that you’re feeling somewhat better already, right?
Hmmm, I wonder, does a bird sing because it’s happy—or is it happy because it sings?
Step 2: Manage Your Focus
Managing your physiology will give you instant, short-term relief from the symptoms of anxiety—and you need to take steps two and three so you experience long-term relief…
What are your thoughts focused on when you’re feeling anxious? What disaster are you catastrophising about, imagining happening over-and-over? (Oh no, not that shark that I described in your last bulletin!)
Instead of directing your focus to what you don’t want, imagine what you do want to happen. Picture your preferred outcome in detail.
When your ideal outcome transpires…what will you see, what will you hear, how will you feel? Dwell on that for a moment.
Notice how your physiology has relaxed some more and your anxiety levels have decreased. Then…
Step 3: Manage Your Actions
As you imagine your ideal outcome occurring, step back and look at what you would have done, what steps you would have taken, to take you toward that ideal result. And then immediately begin to take those steps.
By the way, because anxiety deadens creativity and clear thinking, you’ll notice that you’ll find it much easier to generate these steps in your new, relaxed state.
Your Leadership Call to Action
How well have you been modelling effective management of your thoughts and feelings? As I see it, leaders have a responsibility to support the effectiveness of others, and help alleviate their anxiety…
- Decide to be alert to how you feel. Pay attention to those thoughts that hover around between your conscious and unconscious.
- As soon as you notice any anxiety is present, intentionally nip it in the bud by:
1. Shifting your physical demeanour
2. Altering what you’re mentally focusing on
3. Taking the action you need to take to manifest your ideal outcome
Practice these three steps until they’re habitual. You’ll notice how you’re always at your best, even when the pressure’s on!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.