Monday, April 3, 2017

Embracing Our Emotions – Both Positive and Negative

There is a lot of buzz in the industry around Emotional Intelligence, which primarily deals with having interpersonal skills.  The issue is really much broader than this.  As we go throughout our day, we may experience a variety of emotions based on specific situations or how we perceive our interactions with others.   

“What’s with all the leadership closed-door meetings? Are we going to have a layoff?” (fear)  
“How dare they pass me over for that promotion. After all I’ve contributed to this company?” (anger) 

These situations can ignite emotional triggers which drive our behaviors and reactions.  Becoming aware of these emotions, being in charge of them, how we react and behave because of them is the key.  We call this being flexible or agile with your emotions. 

Most of the time, especially in the workplace, we don’t take the time to think about the emotions we’re experiencing, or to consider how they might impact our behaviors.  That usually happens after the fact - on the drive home when we ruminate on a heated discussion and wish we’d handled it differently. Or it may not happen until someone calls us on our behavior the next day. Or worse, it may not happen at all.

In his work, psychologist Robert Plutchik identified eight basic emotions and their opposites: Joy – sadness; trust – disgust; fear – anger; surprise – anticipation; sadness – joy; disgust – trust; anger – fear; anticipation – surprise. Plutchik theorized that:

  • Emotions have served an adaptive role in helping organisms deal with key survival issues posed by the environment
  • Primary emotions can be conceptualized in terms of pairs of polar opposites
  • All emotions vary in their degree of similarity to one another

We need our emotions! Even the ones that we might consider negative – sadness, anger, fear, disgust. In fact, according to an article in Scientific American, “anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.”

So the key is not to suppress your emotions, but to become more aware and appreciative of them, and in so doing, recognize how they impact your behaviors.  This enables your ability to reframe your behavior into a more productive response.

Once you have an awareness of how you typically respond to certain triggers and in certain situations, you can choose a different response. It’s not about avoiding certain emotions, or interpreting them as good or bad. After all, your emotions are your emotions. It’s about understanding them and learning to adjust your behavior accordingly.

When we experience an emotion, we should recognize and act on it. You know you are feeling something, what are you going to do with that? Are you acting in a way that aligns with your belief system, or are you reacting to old baggage? Emotions are not good or bad, right or wrong. We have to reframe and understand where they are coming from, or act on them and make a change.  Our emotions come into play when our core values are compromised.  If our behaviors are not in line with our core values, it creates discontent within us.

So how do you begin the journey from recognizing emotions to managing behaviors? Lumina Emotion is the internal compass that helps us align our behaviors with our values and beliefs.  The Lumina Emotion Portrait uncovers the relationship between your inner feelings, emotions and behaviors. It examines unique patterns of behavior, including how you may tune up or tune down certain behaviors to suit the needs of your environment. It also focuses on how you can overplay your strengths and highlights potential blockers to interpersonal effectiveness - those emotions we feel when we are overly stressed or under pressure. Lumina Emotion helps you understand how you will react. It takes you on a journey to composure, which helps you find the behavior that will rescue you.

Interested in learning more about Lumina Emotion? Contact us at to learn about upcoming Lumina Emotion events. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Getting to the Heart of Leadership

When faced with a decision, do you rely on your head or your heart? Many would argue that decisions – especially business decisions – are best when made as the result of carefully reviewing facts, weighing the options, and then making the most logical choice. In other words, go with your head and forgo your heart. As leaders, however, we make many decisions throughout the day. And a number of them – if you want to be a truly effective leader – need to involve your heart.

No matter what the poster on the wall might say, it’s YOUR actions and reactions as a leader that establish the true culture of an organization. Your employees look to you as a model for how they treat one another, how loyal they are to their team and the organization, and how they behave in general. Showing some heart in your behaviors, in your conversations and in your approach to decision-making will go a long way to ensuring that there is heart in your company culture.

Here's an example. You may tend toward being direct and purposeful. Say what you need to say and move on. But remember, words are powerful. They convey information and they also inflict feelings. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said…but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  You can still be direct and purposeful, but how about wrapping those words in a blanket of gentleness and kindness? Think about how that might affect the outcome.

When you are in a difficult conversation, take a deep breath, count to 5, and imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. How might this impact your conversation?

As leaders, we’re busy. We move through the day from meetings to issues to decisions with little time to reflect or to tap into that inner voice that helps us align our actions, intentions, and values: our heart. Last month was “heart health” month. In honor of that, I recommend that, going forward, you do this brief exercise before going into an important meeting or difficult conversation.

Spend a few quiet moments to get grounded. Feel your connectedness to the earth – imagine the trees, rivers, mountains and oceans that make up this beautiful planet; feel the ground beneath you.
Imagine your audience. What do they need to hear from you? How do they need to hear it? What can you say, or how can you say it in a way that conveys positivity and optimism? See yourself as the conduit between your audience and what they need from the meeting or conversation.
Connect with your inner self. Listen to your heart to understand what you need to do to connect with your audience.
Set an intention for the meeting, such as to be direct but open, tough but gentle, logical but empathetic, or simply to have clarity and openness. Let your connectedness guide your approach and your message.
Get out of your head and into your heart. Be receptive to new ways of showing up.

And as you make decisions throughout the day, give your heart a voice in the process.

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Lead on,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Resolve to Be Mindful in 2017

For most of us, January is a month of fresh starts. New goals, new diets, new financial or physical fitness routines. We reflect on the past year to develop plans for the new year. Past. Future. How about this year, you include the Present by bringing mindfulness into your daily personal and business lives?

Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” It’s a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while being aware of, and accepting, your feelings and thoughts.  Every day there are moments we miss because we don’t allow ourselves the time to stop, look, and listen for the lesson, the opportunity, or the magic that may be in the here and now.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”Dr. Seuss

Research has shown that in the workplace, mindfulness improves focus, attention, and behavior. An article in Science Daily cites a Case Western Reserve University study which found that “injecting a corporate culture of mindfulness not only improves focus, but the ability to manage stress and how employees work together.”  The study also found that mindfulness:
·         Has a positive impact on human functioning overall
·         Affects interpersonal and workgroup relationships
·         Improves relationships through greater empathy and compassion

“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer

When we are mindful, we are fully aware of where we are and what we are doing.  We are focused in the moment. This helps us take advantage of “the space” between stimulus and response to gain clarity around our intention and to act accordingly.  Think about if you were to just take a minute or two before a presentation or before a big meeting or before a difficult conversation to just close your eyes, breathe, and suspend thoughts and concerns about anything other than the matter at hand. How might that sharpen your focus? Result in a more positive outcome?

An extension of this is meditation, which is not just for yogis anymore! In fact, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, How Meditation Benefits CEOs, meditation is growing in popularity among senior executives “because there’s something to meditation that appears to benefit CEOs more than recreation or relaxation do alone.”  Meditation:
·         Builds resilience
·         Boosts emotional intelligence
·         Enhances creativity
·         Improves your relationships
·         Helps you focus

If you’re interested in learning more about meditation and how to get started, you might want to check out Jack Kornfield’s book, Meditation for Beginners. Jack Kornfield is an American author and one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness to the West.

In the meantime, start reaping the benefits of mindfulness now by beginning and ending each day with a few moments of silence. With practice, you will achieve renewed focus and clarity, and open the door to enhanced self-discovery and abundant opportunities.

Let’s become the cutting-edge leaders of 2017 by creating a wave of mindfulness.

“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.” – Gregg Krech, author and Founder of the ToDo Institute

Lead on,