Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Ever noticed how certain times of the day require more of your attention to manage? I remember reading a parenting book years ago that called these the ‘flash points’ in your day. Tantrum inducing moments, when both kids and parents can lose it…those times when stress levels are high, patience is low and we are more likely to react. And yet, these are the times when we most need to take a breath and decide how to respond if we want to be in charge of ourselves in that moment.
If you have children these times might be getting out the door in the morning, homework or dinnertime, or bedtimes. I work from home most days now, so I don’t experience the same stress getting to an office that I used to but I remember those days when I felt full-on DONE and emotionally drained after my daycare drop-off…with a commute and full day of work still ahead of me. Still now it seems that the mornings that can go sideways are the ones when I have somewhere downtown to be, all dressed up (as the kids would say), and ideally at my rock star best…
Flash points in your work day could be critical team meetings, emails from ‘certain’ people, regular reporting deadlines, project kick-off or post-mortem meetings. Same combination of high stress, high stakes, low patience, moments with relationship histories – with the same need to CHOSE your response for a successful outcome.
React and you lose control. Respond and you’re in control. Take these statements on as one of your life lessons and you will see the benefits in every area of your life.
I am still improving my skills at this, but I’m SO much better at this than I used to be. I have learned – and keep on learning – how to manage ME in those moments. And remember, the one and only person you can change is yourself so me learning to manage ME is critical.
People pick up on our energy so if I’m rushing around, or feeling anxious, in the mornings, so are the kids. And stressed out kids in the morning is NO fun for anyone! When I was in an office every day my rushing around made people reporting to me think I was too busy to approach, which led to unnecessary problems. Telling myself to walk slowly through the office was such a little thing to change, but the different impression it gave others was significant and my team and our projects were better for it. I learned how to convey a sense of urgency without the edge of panic that can often accompany it.
People pick up on your energy – which is woven into your attitude – all day long. And while children are especially aware of parents’ energy, the other people in your life pick up on your energy too – even if they aren’t consciously aware they are doing it. I’m sure you’ve been in a meeting where you just know so-and-so is in a foul mood…or are feeling fantastic…without him or her even saying a word.
The work YOU have to do in these moments is stay in charge of YOU. And that starts with you what’s going on in your mind, in your thoughts.
What are you saying to yourself on those mornings when the kids just won’t get out of bed, or refuse to get clothes on and you’re counting down the minutes to your first meeting of the day? (And if your kids never do this, count your lucky stars!)
What are you saying to yourself when you hear the email notification go off and you see it’s HER, again…?
This inner dialogue affects you! And you are in total control of what you are saying to yourself (and to others) in these flash point moments. It’s time to turn it around so that your inner dialogue supports and serves you. So how?
Sometimes you can reframe it, flip it around and easily go from annoyed / panicky to pleased / calm. But often, and certainly at first, this can be hard to do. Start by asking yourself a simple questions: ‘Do I want this to be true?’ – because chances are you don’t. I tell my clients to walk themselves up the ladder from these ‘thought pits’ if jumping out of the hole seems impossible. It goes something like this…
Inner cranky voice: “Oh for the love of all things that are sacred, would you just put on the boots already, and KEEP them on, so we can get you to school…because I can’t be late for this meeting…if we keep going at this pace I am going to be late, I’m going to arrive a sweaty disaster and be so flustered I’m going to suck at the presentation and we’ll lose the deal…why can’t he just keep the boots on already!! I’m totally getting fired…”
Climbing the ladder out of this pit: “Breathe…do I want this to be true? No, absolutely not. I want to do a great job at this presentation this morning. I AM going to do a great job. I’m an excellent presenter! I’m prepared! This client totally loves me. I’m amazing! So…what’s the deal with these boots? How do I see this from his perspective? School is so fun and it’s especially fun to get there before the bell rings so he can play with his friends. Fun, fun! Let’s check the sock situation…ah ha…it’s the sliding down in the boot issue. Different socks! Problem solved and we are out the door and away! Big smile, big hugs!”
Do a quick experience for yourself and read these last two paragraphs out loud, and with all the emotion of that moment. Check in with your body after reading each one. Feels different, doesn't it! And it gets easier every time you practice this technique, I promise!
What flash points are you dealing with in your day right now? Let me know how these tips help you stay in control of YOU. Want to learn more about how to unlock your true potential and be your best self, at work and at home? Connect with me for a complementary strategy session on how you can learn to control your inner game and take charge of YOU.
Lisa Hardess is an accomplished coach and consultant who has worked with adults, children, teams and communities to support the transformation of their professional and personal lives using a combination of critical mind shifts and strategic action planning. Lisa has worked in consulting, education and not-for-profits with people in groups, workshops, and one-on-one for over 15 years. She has a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, a Master of Science in Planning and Development. Lisa is a certified Thinking Into Results consultant with the (Bob) Proctor Gallagher Institute.