Why is it that when some people come up against a brutal adversary or obstacle, they always manage to come out on top?
Everyone else was destroyed. How did they survive and thrive?
How do they always survive and thrive?
The answer lies in neurobiology.
Here are five neurobiology books condensed into two paragraphs:
When a human being is stressed, very specific processes are activated in their brain. These processes force them to focus on three mechanisms that help our species survive. Let’s call them the three F’s. The three F’s are:
At times of stress, our biochemistry has one goal: get us out of the stressful situation. This is why people who are stressed may “snap”. I have a neighbor who randomly yells at people for not putting their cats on leashes, when she is stressed. No. I’m not joking.
This is how you join those who survive & thrive:
As you progress in your professional career you will encounter bigger and bigger obstacles & adversaries. They blindside you. This is normal. It is also perfectly normal to be freaked out when this happens. Last week I was sharing with the CEO of a US bank how I had a panic attack the last time I was struck by an adversary twice my size. He laughed and reminded me that no one likes to encounter these. Then he told me the affirmations he recites each morning to remain calm when he is faced by such a beast (I will share his notes in the email I send you next week, this week we want to focus on how to turn your biochemistry into your top-secret competitive advantage).
Each time you are caught off guard by an adversary or obstacle, it will be very reasonable for your brain to activate the 3F’s. When this happens you will have to make a choice. Do you snap or strategize?
To strategize try one (or all three) of these “grounding techniques”:
- Go to the bathroom. Wash your hands, play with the water and let it run over your hands (maybe wash your face too). Do this until you feel a little bit more calm.
- Sniff something fragrant: a candle, a lotion, that tiny bottle of Bergamot essential oils that you are about to buy and store in your desk drawer.
- Eat something: food, a mint, anything that is NOT caffeinated. You want to ingest something that will help you calm down.
- Drink a cup of tea. I prefer ashwagandha tea when I’m stressed.
- Massage lotion into your hands.
- Google “CBT Grounding Techniques” and try one of those.
Once you have calmed yourself down you can then think clearly. It is time to strategize.
Find a safe & quiet place. Sit down & write:
- What is stressing me out right now?
- Why is this stressing me out?
- What 5 steps can I take right now to start fixing this stressful situation?
Then go put your plan into motion. Maybe run your plan by a trusted advisor (I’m also just a phone call away). By doing this you switch from: “Person who is about to snap at a key business contact or family member.” To: “One of the lucky few who always come out on top.”
Then….the next time we are at the same marketing conference we can swap “adversary-slaying” stories over an Irish coffee.
PS: Don’t forget to share this with a friend in need.