You probably already believe that waking up, checking your phone, and feeling the need to tweet in the middle of the night is not all that helpful to a person’s wellbeing and likely not the best example to follow. Here are two leadership issues to consider.
- All leaders need quality sleep.
- Great leaders have emotional control.
Arianna Huffington is on a mission to convince people that they need quality sleep, amongst other things, to support wellbeing and productivity through her organization Thrive Global. She’s right. It’s supported by science. We need sleep. When we cumulatively get less than seven hours of sleep a night it has a negative effect on memory and concentration and directly contributes to heart disease and diabetes.
So, how do those of us that have trouble sleeping get those needed Z’s? Rituals are helpful. Establish a sleep ritual that involves winding down before bed. Go to bed at the same time each night. Don’t get up for at least seven hours afterward. When we short-change our sleep everything breaks down, mental strength and resilience, emotional control, insight, clarity, discernment. Quality sleep supports our success.
If you’re having trouble sleeping try these ideas. All of which support quality sleep:
- Turn the lights down in the house after dinner to set an evening mood.
- Put all gadgets down at least thirty minutes before bed.
- Have sex or take a bath.
Daniel Goleman furthered research around emotional intelligence emphasizing that emotional intelligence or EQ is directly related to leadership performance. He also proffers that EQ can be learned. This concept has since spread around the world. One aspect of EQ is emotional control.
Do you believe that emotional control is an essential quality of inspiring leadership? Are swift reactions, outbursts, rash judgements, and no filter qualities of great leadership? All of these negative qualities stem from a lack of self-awareness and a lack of self-control.
So, how does one cultivate emotional control? Are we simply born with it? Perhaps some people seem to be but we can also learn how to improve upon our ability to control our emotions. Emotional control is an inner condition, it starts with self-awareness.
Begin to examine the times in your life when emotions arise that trigger a reaction in you. Does a person, a situation, or an activity prompt you to feel stressed, uptight, or angry? What causes you the urge to react to things? Is it the flurry of tweets on twitter that serve as a trigger or merely being in the presence of a certain person at work? Begin to create a list. After you have isolated the triggers that test the limits of your emotional control, you can begin to make more helpful choices.
There are a variety of ways to regain control. Let’s begin with the following five:
Helpful choices may include establishing boundaries and spending less or no time with the people that trigger you. At work, you can set time limits on meetings. Or you can arrange to have someone come to your door to free you from a meeting after 15 minutes. If you are drawn to check your phone in the night, remove it from your room and put it in a place you are unlikely to fetch it. Lock it in your car if you must. The urge to check your phone will fade in time.
Practice deep breathing to calm the nervous system.
Knowing that certain meetings or emails are triggers for you, you can practice deep breathing, called pranayama in yoga, in advance of the meeting or before reading email. There are many breathing techniques practiced for different purposes. Breath regulation supports nervous system control, which is what we need to learn to do if we want to assess and even help to control our emotions. The calming breathing practice that I like to encourage most involves taking long deep slow inhales followed by even slower and longer exhales.
Examine your perspective and create a new story.
If work or life simply has you in an emotional frenzy all the time, create a new vision. That frenzy of a life is the way that you see your life. No one else sees your life through the same lens as you do. Every single person operates from a unique perspective. But this perspective is created by our minds, our imaginations. It’s imagined. So, take the story of your life, write it down — frenzy and all. Then rewrite it using different and positive adjectives like full or abundant instead of busy and stressed. Begin to see your life in a more positive light.
Repeat positive affirmations.
Another way to help to change your perspective in a way that can adjust your emotional state is through affirmation. Select an affirmation to repeat at the start of each day and when the frenzied feelings begin to arise. Affirmations are positive messages — the flip side of your old story. Gratitude has been studied as a science that can make you happier. Your affirmation can be one of gratitude for your intelligence, job, health, wellbeing, family, or whatever it is for which you have to be grateful.
Add periods of downtime into your daily schedule.
Finally, if you step back and look at your life overall, you may discover a lack of balance. A lot of uptime and limited downtime. Include your self-care on your priority list. We need fresh air, sunlight, inspiration, and connections with people we love and love us. We need to experience the feeling of a super-relaxed nervous system from time to time. Find ways to carve out small pieces of downtime each day to counter the uptime. Add moments to center yourself and reflect upon what you want out of your life. Find relaxation by taking a nature walk, participating in a yoga class, or getting a deep massage. There are many ways to counterbalance uptime and remind your mind and your nervous system what it feels like to be calm. When we can identify with what calm feels like we can access that calm emotional state more often. When we are calm, we are in control. It’s a practice. Calm is a practice.
Remember – your personal wellbeing is connected to your success.
By practicing some of the suggestions in this article, you will begin to see the connection between taking care of your holistic health and your ability to be a self-aware and emotionally controlled leader.
To download Five Keys to Unlocking Health, Happiness, and Meaning in Life, sign up for my mailing list www.tarramitchell.com. For more of my thoughts on leadership, personal growth, and success as find me on Twitter: @tarrammitchell and/or Facebook: @tarrammitchell.
Tarra Mitchell is incorporating her distinctive background in business and yoga to contribute to the great conversation around leadership and consciousness. Her upcoming book, The Yoga of Leadership, shows how personal wellbeing is connected to success to inspire and empower leaders to lead healthier, happier lives, and better connect with and engage their teams.
Watch Tarra’s author video below to learn more about The Yoga of Leadership.