Overcoming Emotional Obstacles

When you’re stuck, emotions often take over your otherwise rational approach to problem-solving. You may think that a particular task or initiative may be the obstacle, when in reality an underlying emotional hindrance is the real culprit.

Your ability to reframe the emotional issue will help you break through to a solution. The key is identifying the what is really getting in the way. Here are a few of the more common emotional obstacles:

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Have You Asked for Feedback Recently?

As a leader, you may find yourself giving feedback as frequently as every day. Letting members of your team know about areas of their work that they could improve on is integral to your role.

How often, however, do you find yourself receiving feedback? The likely answer to that is very rarely outside of any performance review that you may receive. When you are in a leadership position, people might find it uncomfortable or out of place for them to give you feedback.

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Extraction from Spin

High growth business environments can morph into chaotic messes when you least expect it. As exciting as it can be to be part of rapid growth, leaders who spin around in these situations can lose perspective and tend to focus on the wrong things.

One tendency is to grasp at less important issues because they are easier to deal with than more strategic and essential issues. Those less significant matters are often ones that are in your comfort zone rather than the new challenges that arise with growth. Here are some tips to manage yourself during these times.

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Hack Your Brain

This topic was inspired by a conversation during a long ride with a Lyft driver. We were talking about the importance of a good attitude and he commented, “Yeah, I hack my brain every morning to make sure that it’s in the right place.”

I then learned that in addition to driving to make a living, Randy is a full-time college student (graduating next month) and cares for a seriously ill hospitalized parent. He almost flunked out of high school, was considered a loser by counselors, and against all odds got admitted to college several years after high school and is now graduating with a 3.5 average.

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Put on Your Game Face

You’re sailing along and things are going well, and out of nowhere – POW! – something happens that knocks you over. As you pick yourself up and regain composure, though, it’s important to manage your emotions. As a leader, you’re subject to scrutiny.

The courage you demonstrate at times of distress can even define you as a leader. Think about times you have observed this in others. An angry executive makes it uncomfortable for everyone else. People start to tiptoe around this leader, not wanting to trigger an explosion.

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Congruent Impressions

You’re always making an impression, even when you’re not thinking about it. Have you thought about what others may notice if they see you outside of your usual habitat?

For example, a motivational speaker with a wonderful reputation was seen rudely chewing out a hotel clerk on the day of her presentation. The audience members who happened to see this were startled by the disappointing contrast from how she portrayed herself from the platform.

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Change Your Perspective

It’s always good to get away to have a change in perspective. This doesn’t need to be a vacation; it can simply be a venue or environment that is different from your usual ones. By being in a different place, you’ll be able to experience things a little differently when you return to your routine.

Why is this important? We become increasingly insular with the day in, day out sameness. That’s why something as seemingly mundane as taking a brief walk can remove you from the sameness and expose you to something fresh.

The good news is that anything that is a shift from your regular routine can accomplish this. It may be driving a different route to or from work. If you ride public transportation, you can get off one stop earlier and observe what those extra blocks have to offer. You can even meander into a store that you’ve never walked into before.

These simple activities interrupt the patterns that are locked in your brain and open you up to new thinking and perspective. Even a small movement can make this happen: just getting up from your desk and moving around can be beneficial.

In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Sitting is the new smoking,” When we’re out of our chairs, it improves our health!

Even better, take a short walk in nature. This is especially important if you’re a city dweller and concrete sidewalks are your idea of the great outdoors. Nature has the benefit of soothing your mind, so it’s a wonderful way to take care of yourself. You may not be able to do this every day, but try to fit in some nature time during your week.

Engage in these small changes to benefit from fresh perspective, which ultimately helps your mood and productivity. Share this with your staff, by the way, especially if they’re glued to their desks, day in and day out.

Have a great day!​​​​​​