Self Leadership: Maintaining emotional equilibrium


Being a leader requires one to maintain a steady ship, not only within the work environment, but also within oneself. At times, either of these can be challenging. So what happens when we are in stormy seas, and how do we keep afloat? Let's take the analogy of a boat to explore this further.

There are various internal and external influences that can cause a boat to shift from it's natural upright position:

  • Waves
  • Wind
  • Turning forces when the rudder is put over
  • Shifting of weights on board
  • Addition or removal of weights
  • Loss of buoyancy (damage)

These influences exert heeling moments on a boat causing it to list (permanent) or heel (temporary). A stable boat does not capsize when subjected to normal heeling moments due to the boat's tendency to right itself (righting moment). 

This is also true of our own equilibrium. Normally we are able to roll with daily influences. We monitor our internal and external 'instruments' to see that we are on-course and 'sea-worthy'. There are however times when we can get close to heeling or capsizing. This can be caused by extenuating external or internal influences. No matter what these are, there are some key 'instruments' we can call-on to support us to maintain upright.

- Values: Checking-in with your values when you get a sense of internal disruption. Are things occurring that aren't aligning with your values? What do you need to do to voice these and re-set your boundaries?

- Mindset: You can't change others; you can only change how you respond to them. What thinking patterns are you employing that are helping or hindering your equilibrium? How much of your thinking is aligned with problems versus possibilities? What logic do you need to bring explore to counter-balance your emotions?

- Circle of Influence: What do you have direct control over, influence over, or no control or influence over? What are you holding onto that you have no influence over that you need to let-go? What conversations are you not having that you need to have? Also, what conversations are you having that are none of your business?

An immediate thing you can do when you find yourself losing equilibrium is what is called in NeuroLinguistic Programming as a State Change. This means to do something that will interrupt your pattern of thinking or behaviour in order to gain perspective on the issue. This may mean taking a deep breath, going for a walk, or even a bathroom break. You are sending signals to both your brain and body that you are moving away from that state and into another. It's a bit like when we answer the phone sweetly in the middle of a heated argument. So rather than having an external stimulus, we create our own stimulus as a pattern interrupt.

As you go forward this week, have a play with some of these emotional instruments to reset your equilibrium.

We can't stop the storm, but we can manage how much water we take onboard.