Use Your Emotions as a Positive Force in Your Leadership Journey
I was talking to a dear friend recently about my fear of public speaking when I proudly declared, “I am going to act with courage in the face of fear to step up to take on more and more speaking opportunities.”
Laughing, she asked, “Is that your actual definition of courage?”
Pausing, I reflected on the best way to answer this to convey my seriousness.
“Yes, courage is all about taking action even when you’re afraid.”
We could all do this a lot more, couldn’t we? Not just with speaking (though I’m told I’m not alone with this one).
What if we acted with courage when we started a hard conversation waiting to be had?
What if we could turn fear or anger into a thoughtful and powerful conversation?
What if we turned toward our emotions, felt the fear and acted on the most important things in our world?
Imagine what a difference that would make.
This notion became crystal clear to me recently as I was reading Peter Bregman’s powerful, energizing new book, Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work. He offers such a compelling perspective on leadership and courage. I absolutely embrace it.
Peter and I both agree that it all comes down to noticing. If you are aware of the conversations you need to have (and I know you are) you can become aware of the emotions you experience when you anticipate having them.
I realize this could feel awkward at first. Trust me, you’ve got to try the method. Start by concentrating on the most important conversation you’ve been playing over and over in your head. Then take these five steps:
- Acknowledge the emotions that come up (and don’t be surprised if some are conflicting)
- Notice where you are feeling these emotions in your body
- Go inward and actually feel the tension, wherever it is
- Listen intently to what you hear and sense (this is your own inner wisdom speaking)
- Ask yourself, what do I really want to achieve here? In your heart of hearts you know. Allow yourself to get very clear about the result you desire.
Peter’s general rule? The more you fear a conversation, the more you probably need to have it.
Instead of cowering in the face of fear, think of it as a built-in indicator of what you truly need to address. Lean into it, not away from it. Use fear as a catalyst and fuel to confront the most important issues you face.
As you build trust in the power of your emotions, your courage will naturally emerge. You’ll be well on your way to more productive relationships where tensions are addressed, not left silently lurking.
The result? You’ll have more constructive conversations. You’ll worry less about the conversations you need to have. Then you’ll actually have the energy to plan how they’ll go.
Try having a few productive rounds with emotional awareness and courage. You might just be calmer, too.
If you are willing to feel everything, then you can begin using your emotions as your wise guide to be more confident, deepen connections, and inspire people to achieve a common purpose.
How awesome would that be to lead with emotional courage!