This is about a bear and a big potential client. And about you, of course.
Scenario 1: Imagine you are having a wonderful walk in the forest. You know, blue sky, green trees, spring, bla bla, all of it. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a bear walks onto your path. Immediately, you feel your heart pounding in your chest, your internal alarm system switches on and you go into fight or flight mode: you have three survival options and a split second to decide: 1) run away; 2) play dead or 3) attack the bear. Great job, you have a well-functioning alarm system! I’m sure you’ll survive!
Scenario 2: Imagine you are having a walk around at work. You know, busy place, stressed people, long working days, bla bla, all of it. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, your biggest potential client walks into the office in full glory. Immediately, you feel your heart pound, your internal alarm system turns on and your brain tells you that you have three survival options… Ok. Stop. No. this is NOT where you want to listen to your panic mode, and run away, play dead or physically assault your potential client. This is the moment you need a clear and calm mind that can oversee all your options and strategies. NOW.
How? Brain Science
Now, joking and bears aside, the point of the two scenarios above is, obviously, that whether you are performing within immense time constraints, having a fight with your spouse or leading your organization through a process of change, you want to be able to control your actions and responses most effectively.
However, most of your behavior is based on what is going on in your amygdala, a part of your brain that is responsible for your emotions, instincts and memory. When activated, it usually produces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, hormones you need for coping and survival. Its reaction is based on what you have learned in the past, and often times sends you information founded in fears, guilt and anger you have built up inside yourself along the years. It makes you fight, withdraw, resist, etc.
When you are in actual danger, you need to anticipate to that amygdala warning (the bear in the forest, because really, you are not looking to have a conversation with that bear to see what the best options for both of you are). But most of the time you are not facing a bear and don’t need to be warned by the amygdala. What you need, is conscious use of the BrainPower you actually possess: the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is what you use to analyze the situation and oversee your entire reality away from fear, doubt and anger (which is what you need to do when you walk in to that potential big client). Reacting from the prefrontal cortex stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body, supporting the building of relationships, reduction of stress, and brings clarity to emotional memories and improves social skills.
Making Your Attitude Your Business
So now what? Maybe you don’t want to hear it. Maybe you think holding your attitude responsible sounds like a self-blame game you are not in the mood for. Maybe you are looking to put the blame or accountability elsewhere. Fact is, that regardless who carries the responsibility for whatever is going on, the way forward to master ownership of your life, is by owning your attitude.
Why? Your attitude determines how you see the world and how the world sees you. How you see the world defines how you respond to it and how the world responds to you. Do you have an angry attitude? You are going to fight out there. Do you have an attitude that believes people need help? They will find you. Do you have an attitude of guilt? You will feel guilty, whether it’s the truth or not. Do you have a resourceful attitude? Opportunity is your game.
Unchaining Your Attitude
Every person has an individual attitude. Let’s call it your general approach to life based on your past experiences, your beliefs, values and interpretations (the stories you tell yourself about everything going on in your life). It is a complex mix of your responses to everything inside and around you, responses of which some are dominant and others more in the background, some are effective and others not so much.
When you develop a deep comprehension of what your attitude is made of and how to control its power, you can change your world dramatically. Rather than responding to the world simply as you always do, like most of us, you will able to see the full picture of your potential realities and choose your best position and actions for the outcome you desire. Knowing, understanding and owning your attitude patterns creates hyper awareness of the full scope of OPTIONS available to you. There is a whole other world out there that you haven’t even considered existing!
So, for this week, just a simple thing to pay attention to when you are out there:
When are you responding as if dealing with a bear, and when are actually really responding from your BrainPower?