Ever feel like when your hair is on fire, everyone brings you gasoline? Stressful, out of control moments are great opportunities to peek out of the weeds and change how we react to chaos. Here’s the trick; disengaging our autopilot requires pausing while the fire smolders. In our constantly connected, distracted and fast paced world, doing nothing is about as popular as flip-phones, but here’s a strategy that works:
First, put on the brakes. Resist the urge to fly into action and simply don’t do anything for a beat. Be ready, this may not go over big with the other players, so mention how it’s an important first step for clear and focused action. Whatever you do, avoid being consumed by the moment and starve the fire of activity.
Next, take a deep breath, like diaphragm bendingly deep, exhale, then take another. Repeat this until the “oh sh*t!” sensation passes and you feel less reactive. This will happen; it might take a few breaths, but calm will prevail. Turns out there is no way to breathe deeply and freak out at the same time. Try it.
With the ambient panic on mute, we can explore beyond our usual thought paths and find other sources of inspiration. Our heart and gut are always sending messages, but we usually work hard to ignore them. Crank the volume up to 11 and pay attention; we know more than we think. In fact, many successful people cite following their gut as key to their hottest achievements.
After pausing, breathing and listening beyond your brain, get the tough going and move forward with clear and focused action. Sky’s the limit. There are always ways to do better, we just have to create the space and habit of discovering what they are. Use the stressful moments in life as a call to action; instead of being consumed by a conflagration, forge a new path, do something different and inspire others to do the same.