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Lyndon B. Johnson was known for his histrionics — his usual reaction to minor pain or illness was “frantic” and “hysterical,” wrote Robert Caro for the New Yorker in 2012. But when under pressure — real pressure, as he was on the day he became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy — Johnson assumed an almost supernatural calm.
As Caro writes, “Johnson’s aides and allies knew that for all his rages and bellows, gloating and moans, endless monologues, his behavior was very different in times of crisis, in times of there were decisions – difficult decisions, crucial decisions – to be made; that at such times he became, as his secretary Mary Rather recalled, “silent and still”.
Some people seem designed to perform well in times of intense pressure. As an entrepreneur, this is definitely a skill you would do well to develop. A study conducted by TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers can manage their emotions during times of stress and stay calm and in control.
Although stress is an essential tool to keep the brain alert, too much has harmful consequences. Here are some tactics to prepare you to deal with difficult situations in stride.
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It works for yogis, and it can work for you too.
Mindfulness is something you can develop over time, which you can then tap into when you need it most. A Harvard study found that eight weeks of meditation led to both growth of the hippocampus – the region of the brain that regulates emotions – and a decrease in the density of the amygdala, which plays a role in anxiety. and stress.
Meditating for a few minutes a day can help develop mindfulness to the point that when a stressful moment arises, you’ll be able to turn off the mental chatter and stay calm.
If you don’t have a long-standing meditation practice to draw on when you need it, you can try a technique that Forbes contributor Siimon Reynolds calls it “relaxed breathing”. When you experience a stressful event, he writes, like an irritating phone call or a meeting gone wrong, try to envision the situation. Then inhale slowly and deeply and hold it. When you exhale, imagine all the stress leaving you. Do this three times in a row and “you’ll be amazed at how much your stress has been reduced,” he says. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself either: Release your breath throughout your workday whenever you feel like you’re starting to spiral.
Related: How a Positive Mindset Can Transform Your Life
Catastrophizing is a hard-to-say phenomenon that’s easy to do when you’re there. Essentially, catastrophizing is assuming the worst of a given situation. It’s amazing how fast our brains can spin in a matter of milliseconds, taking a little hiccup in a high-stakes conversation and exploding it in the certainty that your business will fail and you’ll never work again.
If you catch yourself doing this, it’s important to defuse. Remember to breathe. Getting plenty of oxygen to your lungs fuels your brain and circulatory system.
Now that you’ve taken a few deep breaths, the next step is to avoid giving space to negative thoughts, because lingering only makes those thoughts more powerful. Along the same lines, you don’t want to fall into the “what if” trap, life coach Trish Barillas recount fast business. Instead, replace “what if” with “what is it”. “‘What if’ produces anxiety because it places everything in the future, and we know that anxiety likes to plant its roots in the past and the future,” she says. “What we can be certain of, however, are factual answers grounded in the present moment.”
If you can, try to write down any negative and self-destructive thoughts and review them. Did you use the words “never”, “worse”, “never” or something similar? If so, your statements are not based on facts. Separating facts from guesswork will help silence negative thoughts and create space for a healthier outlook.
Related: Why Women Are More Likely To Experience Burnout (And 6 Ways To Stop It From Happening)
Empathy isn’t just about listening – it’s about considering where someone is coming from. Practicing true empathy is a great way to put a situation into perspective and not take what’s going on personally. If, for example, you are asked to explain why you made a certain decision or adopted a particular position, it is very likely that the person asking the questions is not trying to attack you, he really wants to understand.
It took me a long time to learn to think that way. There have definitely been times since I founded my company, Jotform, where I’ve been prone to getting defensive or over-explaining myself. If you have noticed that you have been put on the spot in a tense context, harvard business review Contributor Amy Jen Su points out that empathy is not about being passive or being walked on.
“Recognize that you are making more room for the emotion than you are actually helping to unload it,” she writes. “By allowing the other person to blow off steam, you also gain access to other important facts, assumptions and constraints at play – all the essential information to bridge the gap between you and the other person.”
Practicing empathy also means not making assumptions. There are a number of reasons why someone might seem argumentative or impatient, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with you. People have different styles for expressing themselves; they also have bad days. Keep this in mind if you’re tempted to go into fight-or-flight mode yourself.
Being an entrepreneur means you will often find yourself put on the spot. Learning to stay cool under pressure will make your life easier, because being constantly anxious and nervous is not good for anyone. But it will also make you a more effective leader and allow you to face the challenges you face with confidence.
Related: 5 Key Tips to Successfully Ride the Roller Coaster of Being an Entrepreneur
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