- Posted by Janet Zaretsky
- On July 31, 2017
- 0 Comments
Most of us want to perform well. Billions of dollars are spent every year on courses, programs and apps to elevate performance. That is awesome and I would not change any of that. I think education and technology are essential to performance and the expansion of the results produced by us individually and by companies.
With all of that said, the simple solution and the most efficacious solution is to invest is expanding our ability to support one another to perform. In this connected, demand filled world we often neglect a critical piece.
If I know someone is ‘in my corner’, supporting me, I am more likely to think big, to think out-of-the-box, to take risks, to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone. If the environment I am in does not include a commitment to my growth and development, ‘room’ for me to fail and learn, I am less likely to perform at higher and higher levels as I will be more concerned for survival than performance.
I know this personally, as well as what I have coached clients in. When I was placed in positions of power after being a high performer in my role previously, I was not trained in how to lead. I managed—with an iron fist. I wanted everyone to perform at high levels, and used the only thing that came instinctively to me which was force and micromanagement. It worked, to a degree. People performed but out of survival. What was missing was innovation, creativity and high performers being developed. It was also not fulfilling for me. It was exhausting, actually.
Later, in a different role, I was trained in how to lead. I learned I did not have to manage people when I held them in high esteem. I would often say, “There is nothing you can screw up, that we, together, can’t clean up.”, which gave them room to fail and gave them room to develop themselves. As a result, they outperformed my expectations, and likely their own. Some of those people are in extremely high leadership positions in the company we worked in. That was such a satisfying experience.
What is critical is to develop our skills in leading; being empathetic, being committed, putting things into perspective, and trusting that people are inherently skilled and brilliant and they want to perform. In order to do that, oftentimes, we have to manage our own reactions, our own automatic thoughts and behaviors that come out when we feel threatened.
In all the neuroscientific information that is being written about, and I speak about, reaction interrupting is one of the most simple and impactful habits to develop. How? Understand that when your brain gets threatened, (whether that threat is real or imaginary is of no consequence, your brain perceives threats the same), your brain is flooded with a chemical cocktail of epinephrine and cortisol which results in the reaction. That reaction is the ‘fight, flight, freeze or appease others’ reaction. When your brain is bathed in these chemicals, your ability to be empathetic, creative, and do actual thinking is limited. So, if your brain experiences threat, you will simply be acting out of surviving and getting past the threat—not able to bring those leadership skills to bear.
So, what can you do to change this dynamic? Develop an ability to notice that you are reacting, first and foremost. What does that reaction feel like, physically? Emotionally? in action? Then develop something you say to yourself or questions you ask yourself to interrupt it. When you interrupt it, you alter the chemical cocktail which allows you to empathize and think again. Some questions I suggest are: “What is actually happening—the facts only. What am I interpreting, making up, or adding to what is happening? Then you can ask yourself what you want to do?”; which engages real thinking again. Try it out, and when you do it enough times you will create some new habits that are reaction interrupters.
If you develop an ability to see, interrupt and redirect your survival reaction, you can develop your leadership skills and as a result, develop high performers all around you.