Good morning my superhero colleagues!
Today I have an early Christmas gift for you. Please pay attention because it can shape, change or even save your life.
I am going to share with you a technique that you can use to get through stressful and even high pressure situations.
First: You may have been on stress management courses, or been reading self-help books about scheduling, delegating tasks, asking for help and getting enough rest.
All of that common sense (and obvious) information is fine but it is part of managing the constant flow: My technique today is for when you are thrown into a truly stressful situation.
Typically in our world examples of this are:
I have to use this technique quite regularly. I know I am not frequently in pressurized situations, but I do have my own demons. I left bodyguarding with a scar and a haunting memory, and so crowded situations and particularly environments that are unfamiliar and not controlled make me extremely nervous. Some of you have noted and commented to me about my positioning in a room, or seen that I need a moment outside in the quiet or open space. It is because I am taking some time and using this technique (and another) to get my mind in line with what I want to do.
Understand the technique
There are only 3 steps, so it is easy to remember. Our brains are wired for completing tasks, we naturally want to finish what we start. The first step is easy.
In a pressured situation your breathing becomes erratic. It’s part of the fight or flight response starting to take over. What happens along with that is your body’s cortisol levels increase and that causes confusion, which can lead to panic. The best way we can deal with that quickly is through controlled breathing.
Breathe deep and slow. This will lower cortisol to allow clarity and not confusion. Then you can make the right decisions. So that first step… get control of your breathing!
Next step: Recalibrate. Recalibrating is getting rid of thoughts that don’t matter at that moment. Usually the what if questions… “What if this happens? What if that happens?” These questions are confusion because they loop with infinite answers. To recalibrate means to focus your mind on one or two statements of direct intent. As you are doing controlled breathing, that voice in your head now calmly speaks “I am going to do this…”… It can be “I am going to walk on stage and deliver the speech”. It’s short and precise (say it out loud if you need to) and visualize the success of your actions as you repeat the statement.
The third step is to deliver. You know what you need to do, you removed the variables, you have control and you are focused. Fulfil the statements you made. You have done the first two steps, and now you will complete the process. One-two-three.
Breathe – recalibrate – deliver. The goal is to be done in five seconds. But if you have the time you can take 15-20 minutes, get some space and some fresh air to fully ground yourself and come back with confidence. This is now a tool you have, it is the same technique used by elite special forces units as they prepare in those final seconds to breach. I teach it to my students in self defence training so that they can think clearly under pressure in realistic scenario drills. And I have also calmed a bride and groom in the moments before their wedding with the same method. Practice it regularly. Breathe – recalibrate – deliver. The bonus is that it is simple enough for anyone to master quickly and it doesn’t have to be only for high stress, you can use it to help focus on a daily task... become productive with a quickly focused mind.
So today remember, small, smart changes with: Breathe - Recalibrate - Deliver
You can handle a stressful situation, you are one of my superheroes!
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Small, smart changes aligned with vision and direction.