When Does It Stop Being Uncomfortable For Leaders?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
When does it stop being uncomfortable for leaders? Never, I am sorry to say. If I have learned anything, it is that being a leader requires constantly being outside our comfort zones. We must always be looking to move ourselves and the organization forward. This involves risk. And risk is what brings the uncomfortable feelings we have come to know all too well.
Recent discoveries in brain science can help us understand these uncomfortable feelings. Today, we can watch how a person feels stress in their body using modern technology – which also means we can devise approaches to lessen (and actually use) stress to help us be more successful. Where does the stress come from? It is hardwired into our brains and is what allowed our ancestors to survive – and thrive – in a very dangerous world. Today, we live in a much safer world. However, our brains have the wiring used to battle wild animals. These same brains can treat a snub in the office the same way they would treat a dangerous attack on our lives. Our ancient brain just does it automatically. We have to intervene to tell ourselves that they are not the same thing – and, we can if we know how and what to do.
Leaders today can use the latest brain research to help us and our teams navigate the constantly changing – and threatening – environment that has become our modern economy. And, I am convinced we must. It all starts with our own journey on how we manage our levels of stress. This becomes our own scientific study about how we remain at our optimal level of performance – just like professional athletes, premier musical performers, and great senior leaders. They have first mastered their ability to manage and utilize stress in a positive and life giving way. If they did not, they would not continue to excel and do it for extended periods of time.
So, have you made it a priority to learn how you can excel while being uncomfortable? Are you able to help others learn how they excel in an ever-changing environment? Can you and your team talk about effective ways to excel while managing the unavoidable stress that is today’s modern economy? Now may be a great time to discuss these questions. Being uncomfortable is what a leader must learn to navigate in order to be successful.