Cake in the Car

A friend was taking a cake to a party so he drove very carefully. He accelerated slowly, made gentle turns and approached stop signs well in advance. When people started honking and yelling at him he wanted to say, “Hey! I don’t usually drive like this but I have a cake in the back seat.” He thought they would be more patient and understanding if they knew. Now when my friend sees drivers doing strange or annoying things, he tells himself there’s probably a reason — maybe they have a cake in the car or they are from out of town or they just got devastating news from the doctor.

When I heard this story I was reminded that we don’t always know what might be going on with someone in the next lane or the office down the hall. As we head into the holiday season, what would it be like if we commit to giving others the benefit of the doubt?

How Does EQ Impact the Bottom Line?

The CEO was fed up – if she got one more complaint about the VP Operations she was going to have to fire him.  It was obvious when he was in a bad mood because he yelled at people and slammed doors.  Then they were upset and distracted which affected their productivity and how they dealt with customers.  The ripple effect of his bad moods was negatively impacting the bottom line.

Human behavior is like an iceberg.  We see how people behave but we don’t always understand what drives behavior.  Using Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is like putting on your scuba gear to check out what is hidden beneath the surface.  Once you know which emotions are influencing your behavior, you can use those emotions more effectively.

In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on their teams generated measurably better financial results.  Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.

If you want to positively impact your bottom line, contact cheryl@csbryan.com today for an assessment and suggestions for improving EQ for yourself or someone on your team.

Choose Optimism!

12 days before my son’s wedding he and his fiancée were trapped in their home, surrounded by water.  My husband and I were in Austin watching news coverage of people being rescued, some by helicopter.  I was an emotional wreck – completely caught up in all of the negative possibilities.  Thankfully, they never lost power and didn’t get any water in their house, but it was close.

As the water began to recede and we plotted our route back to Houston, we started talking about the likelihood that the rehearsal dinner and the wedding could take place.  I was too quick to say, “It’s probably a long shot.”  Once I knew my family, friends and clients were safe, however, my brain was able to make a shift and I said out loud, “I choose optimism!”  The powerful stories of people all over the Houston area choosing optimism in the midst of devastation and despair continued to encourage me.

It’s one thing to talk rationally about how emotion can highjack our brains; it’s another to experience that highjacking so viscerally.  I need a lot more practice at choosing optimism at every opportunity so I can rely on that “muscle memory” when I need it most.  Rather than dwell on the negative emotions like fear of what lies ahead, anger at the bureaucratic nightmare of insurance claims or survivor guilt for those who didn’t suffer damage, let’s remind each other of the power of optimism.  #houstonstrong

Not My Monkeys

Have you heard the Polish proverb, “Not my circus; not my monkeys”?  This came to mind in a recent coaching session with a client who has a tendency to jump in and fix problems that belong to his team members.
Once he realized that jumping in means he is robbing that person of the opportunity to learn how to solve the problem on their own, we worked on recognizing what triggers him and finding another approach.  He doesn’t like it when people run around with their hair on fire so he will do just about anything to put the fire out.  Repeating “Not my circus; not my monkeys” reminds him not to get caught up in someone else’s craziness.  Then he can step back, calm down and rationally assess whether he needs to get involved – now, later or not at all.
If you tend to be a “fixer” give this a try and get that monkey off your back.

Make Someone Else Tell You “No”

My amazing client Denise Hamilton www.watchherwork.com shared a great story about setting her intention to get tickets to see the show Hamilton in New York.  She didn’t listen to her friends’ warnings that there were no tickets available and if she happened to get a cancelled reservation it would be $800 per ticket or more.

Denise decided that she would make someone else tell her “No” rather than telling herself “No”.  She showed up at the box office and asked about cancellations.  Denise needed two tickets and only one was available, so she asked again.  The agent checked the reservations, moved some things around and gave her two tickets together in the fifth row – for $229 each!

After she took a few minutes to process what happened, Denise realized that her positive intention is what created a positive outcome.  She practiced what Deepak Chopra advises in Setting Powerful Intentions.

What intention would be most powerful for you today?

Over, Under, Around and Through

Do you remember Grover on Sesame Street teaching kids about Over, Under, Around and Through?  Check it out: Grover on YouTube.  Grover’s lesson is useful in understanding how we respond to negative emotions like sadness, guilt, anger or jealousy.  Most of us do whatever we can to go over, under or around those emotions.

Research shows, however, that we need to go through the experience of feeling uncomfortable emotions so we can learn how to accept and deal with them.  Like Grover, we can’t just do it once.  Experiencing these emotions throughout our lives can make us more resilient and able to bounce back sooner.  We can also develop more empathy for others who are dealing with difficult situations.

If you find yourself trying to go over, under or around something, I invite you to consider what benefits might be on the other side if you let yourself go through it.