Why Emotions Matter

"They ensure our survival. They make us smarter. If we didn't need them, they wouldn't exist." -Marc Brackett, "Permission to Feel."

Emotions influence

  • Our attention and memory which determine our ability to learn.
  • Whether we rely on our gut instinct or carefully weigh facts when making important decisions.
  • Every aspect of the social relationships that are the most important element of our lives.
  • The choices we make and the way our body functions that influence our health - from poor diet, excessive drinking, and inactivity to blood pressure, and healing time.
  • Our ability to be creative in the ways that advance society and humanity through innovation and our ability to be creative in the ways that build resilience, like finding a way to get through hard times.

This is the tiniest snippet of the decades of research that clearly demonstrate the importance of emotion in our lives.

 

Sharing this with you, and you with others, is my effort to get people to give a damn about...

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Emotional Strength

Too often, "emotional" and "strength" are seen as opposites.

 

There is an evolutionary component to this belief. We are instinctually wary of those who seem unpredictable - it feels threatening and dangerous. So if our inability to self-regulate makes us unpredictable to others, then we have a problem.

 

The bigger problem, though, is we have also come to believe that emotional suppression is the solution. The solution to appearing predictable. The solution to appearing strong.

 

It's not. Suppressing emotion makes us weaker - both mentally and physically.

 

I'll be adding content on emotional strength. I hope it challenges some of your beliefs about emotions and strength - and I hope you take the time to reconcile and work with those beliefs…changing them if necessary. I hope this series motivates you to assess your personal emotional strength. And I hope this series provides you with a few tangible strategies to adjust as needed.

 

Because the...

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"Pinterest Positivity" doesn't work

Do you know what I mean when I say "Pinterest positivity"?

It is the term I use to describe the advice that says envisioning yourself living your dreams will increase your motivation.

Yes, imagery and visualization are very powerful uses of your mind. Setting high, hard goals and having a clear vision for your life are critical to optimizing performance and life. But when it comes to motivation (actually mobilizing energy toward a goal), seeing yourself living your dreams (already having accomplished them) can actually backfire and reduce motivation.

Extensive research by Gabriele Oettingen and others has shown that only envisioning the goals you want to achieve can trick your body in to a state of relaxation. Seeing yourself having completed the task makes your body think you've already done it. (Yes, your mind is that powerful).

According to the applied research, the best way to use your vision as motivation is to pair the image or goal with the obstacles that stand in your way....

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The critical science of motivation

If you've felt your motivation dwindle over the course of the pandemic (or really any time), this science can help us figure out why and what to do about it.

 

As humans, we have some basic needs. You know this. If I asked you what our physical human needs are, you'd probably say things like food, water, sleep, movement, etc. We need those needs to be met before we can thrive.

 

Turns out, we also have some psychological needs that need to be met in order for us to thrive:

  • Autonomy (sense of control),
  • Competence (need for growth and mastery)
  • Relatedness (need for human connection).

 

When these 3 basic psychological needs are met, our natural motivation flows. We are happier, healthier, more engaged, and perform better.

 

In 2020 in particular, we all lost a large sense of control over our lives - literal restrictions on what we can/can't do are only the start of it. We also feel loss of control when things are just UNKNOWN or constantly changing.

 

Most...

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I'm not giving up on motivation. You shouldn't either.

I feel like motivation is getting a bad rap these days as some uncontrollable beast that comes and goes as it pleases.

I get it - especially after 2020. But I'm not giving up on motivation just yet, and here's why.

From my digging into the science of motivation, I've learned to think of the ebb and flow of motivation as a dance. Am I leading? If so, how? Am I trying to force the dance or am I moving with my partner? If we lose sync, is it because they're off course or did the music shift and I wasn't paying attention?

This metaphor helps me see a shift in motivation as information to be danced with. Maybe the information is telling me I let my mind and focus wander from my high, hard goals that make my heart thump.

Maybe the information is telling me I've been driving too hard and need to refocus on my recovery. Maybe the information is telling me my environment is shifting and I feel lost. Maybe it's telling me I need to refocus on my relationships.

Whatever it is, when we can...

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Group Flow - Communication

Think about the last time you thought about providing feedback to a teammate or coworker. Did you hesitate?

 

Most people will say yes.

 

If we're aiming for flow state - either in business or sport - we must shift our mindset to see feedback as imperative to success.

 

Sometimes we receive the immediate feedback we need from the environment or process itself (a missed shot is feedback to adjust form; a disengaged audience may be feedback to adjust your presentation style).

 

Sometimes though, we need that feedback from those around us.

 

The best way to start? Shorten the feedback loop. Feel yourself hesitating to provide feedback? Challenge yourself to give it immediately. Worried you'll mess up? You might, and that will provide you with immediate feedback to improve your feedback in the future.

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Group Flow - Risk

Risk

Risk is often an inherent part of performance - whether you're in sport, business, the arts, or leadership. But sometimes we downplay risk to make ourselves feel more comfortable which can switch off this necessary flow trigger.

 

Risk can be uncomfortable and make us feel vulnerable...two things we often shy away from.

 

In performance, though, we want to embrace the risk. Aside from being a catalyst to growth and resilience, risk is necessary to achieve flow state.

 

Without risk, our physiological systems don't activate in the right way to get the rush of neurochemicals and hormones that align with our highest performance states.

 

The next time you feel yourself downplaying the risk or vulnerability within a performance, flip your mindset. Recognize that your best performance is only possible because that risk is present.

 

This is one of the most beautiful elements of sport or any performance. Operating on the edge. Seeing the risk and being...

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Group Flow - Clear Goals

Having clear goals is one of the most potent and most overlooked group flow triggers because we often assume we're all on the same page. But even small variations can shift individual focus and impact performance and group flow.

Clear goals are critical to group flow. It is what gets and keeps everyone's effort moving in the same direction. When we assume we're on the same page, we leave room for error in that direction.

 

Consider this... I recently asked a sports team their team goal for an upcoming competition. Here are a handful of their answers:

-Leave everything on the field

-Win

-Beat [opponent]

-No regrets

-Team cohesiveness

-Be gritty

-To win and play together from start to finish

 

Now, I love this list. There's some great stuff here and we might initially think "cool we've got the same idea."

 

But on second inspection, think about the moment these athletes step on the field. Think about how each of these athlete's actions, decisions, and play might be...

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Group Flow

You've probably heard of "flow state" or "being in the zone"...but have you heard of "group flow"?

 

Regardless of whether you've heard of it, you've probably experienced it.

 

It was that moment your sports team seemed to be playing as one unit - communicating without speaking, anticipating movements as if you were reading a teammates mind...

 

It was that moment your work team got "on a roll" in a meeting and seemed to be planning, creating, or producing as if you were one brain - sharing the lead, building on ideas fluidly...

 

Group flow is real (like, measurable by science).

 

And, because of that we also know some of the "triggers" that make group flow more likely. These are those ten triggers.

 

Science shows is that by pulling on any one or combination of them, we can increase our likelihood of entering group flow.

 

Stay tuned this week as I introduce and explain a few of them. Find out which triggers you could use more effectively improve...

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Stress & meaning

People who experienced the highest number of stressful events in the last year were most likely to consider their lives meaningful.

So how can stress be good for you?

 

Well it has to do with how you think about stress. When we believe stress is bad for us, the normal and expected parts of life can start to feel like an imposition, keeping our lives from how they really should be.

 

When we step back and examine the things in life that cause us the most stress, we may find that in fact they are also the things that bring us the most meaning or are deeply important to us.

 

Try this for yourself. Make a list of the things that cause you the most stress. Then make a list of your most meaningful roles, relationships, activities, goals, or causes.

 

How much overlap is there between the two lists? Why are those things important to you? How would you feel if some of those areas of meaning were no longer in your life?

 

 The same experiences that give rise to...

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