Picture this scene:
You’ve just reached 6pm after a long day of back-to-back meetings. While you’re utterly exhausted, you finally have a chance to wrap up your notes and respond to the messages that have been piling up all day.
As you finish catching up, your phone dings and a new message comes in. It’s from your biggest client, who has finally responded to your proposal; you’ve been working on this proposal for months and has ben a big bet for your end of year performance review. The client makes their skepticism known through their less-than-stellar response and the critical questions they ask in their email.
Instantly you’re hit with a bolt of stress and your mind starts racing. Energy from anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, or frustration suddenly power a barrage of stress-induced thoughts in your head. Even though by now you are mentally and physically exhausted, your stress-jolted mind urges you to push your need for rest aside to jump on the message and address the situation ASAP. Even though you’d really just like to go home now and deal with it tomorrow, suddenly you feel as though you have no alternative but to stay late and focus on how to fix things right away.
You can replace client with boss, stakeholder, teacher, or any other role, proposal with any other project, engagement or commitment in your life, and critical feedback with any less-than-hoped-for response or negative interaction — the outcome will still play out as a stress-influenced, reactive decision.
There’s a big problem here stewing in the stress.
If you allow your natural stress reaction to carry you into taking an immediate action to alleviate the feeling of being stressed, you’re being led by your lower brain regions and stress hormones, rather than your higher brain regions and your conscious will. When you’re led by stress, you’re more liable to sabotage yourself, rather than to make a smart, thoughtful decision.
Self-Leadership > Stress
Self-leadership is the practice of making calm, conscious choices that are grounded in your internal values and intrinsic motivations, rather than being pushed by stress…