The decision you fully expected the board to approve just got blocked. How would you react? Or what if your top employee just quit? What then? Do you brush it off and move on or excessively wallow?
It isn’t just at work.
I was flying back from speaking at a conference and the wi-fi wasn’t working on our Virgin America flight. We are in a giant metal tube hurtling around the world drinking and eating pretty decent food using plastic airplane shaped salt and pepper shakers. Yet two passengers decided to create havoc because there was no wi-fi. One was red in the cheeks, physically agitated, looking like he may simply pop like an overinflated balloon, and his seat mate was trying to rally everyone around her to complain too, when it was completely out of our control. They both made a choice. They chose to let a minor inconvenience suck away all of their energy when instead they could have admired the view, read, slept, or watched a movie.
Unexpected disappointments are bound to come, but the way you react and what you show on the outside affects your own energy and the energy of those around you. The speed with which you can brush off disappointments and setbacks and then refocus will determine how fast you achieve what you set out to do. The key is found in having a strong protective barrier—like solar panels on a roof collecting the excess energy and deflecting the heat—so you stay cool and in control. I call this your Imperturbable Barrier. How strong is yours?
I used to work with a leader who was obsessed with reading online reviews and community forums. In the games industry, this can be a full-time job in and of itself, but he liked to stay connected with the customers who played our products, so he would read them continuously. If he had just read them and moved on with his day, it would have been fine. But if there was a negative comment about a new game or a demo that had been released, it would knock him off course for hours, sometimes days. He didn’t know how to observe, listen, and decide whether he was going to act or ignore the feedback. Instead he would wallow in it and get riled up, until I helped him become more imperturbable.
Many of the executives I advise call me when they anticipate a potential meeting or conversation that may provoke them. Just this morning alone I have helped one prepare for a pitch for an acquisition he expects to be a hard sell to the board, another to prepare for giving disappointing promotion news, and another on how to influence an executive peer who is typically antagonistic when hearing his strategy proposals.
Often just writing down how you are feeling can be enough to process your emotions and move on. Pay attention to how you are feeling and why. Be specific and describe the event, what the trigger was, and how you were feeling. Also, try fast forwarding and ask yourself: Will this be important to me in three months? In twelve? Doing so may give you necessary perspective.
The way you react to the unexpected can have powerful consequences. What can you do today to strengthen your Imperturbable Barrier?
Dedicated to growing your business,