When times are good, it is easy for most people to find emotional balance. Usually, when people are in non-stress situations, our bodies and minds are more open to listening to different points of view, and we can take a little extra time to accommodate challenges and quirks. However, when times are tough and schedules are tight, excessive stress makes emotional balance harder to manage. Why? The acute stress response, also known as the fight or flight reaction, kicks in when the brain feels threaten. A million years ago this threat could come from a tiger ready to bounce on us to get a tasty appetizer. The flight or fight reaction would tell us whether to fight the tiger (fight) or run away (flight). In a 24×7 always connected world, the physical threat of danger is replaced by constant texts, news alerts, tight timelines, and overly scheduled calendars.
If you find yourself overly emotional here are three ideas to try and reduce the constant flight or fight response.
First, don’t let success in one area of your life mask flaws in others. When people are overly boastful or vain, they often are doing their best to hide part of their life or personality which is less than perfect. Hiding your flaws takes effort and creates unnecessary stress. It is much better to admit mistakes and make an effort to be authentic with your peers and employees.
Second, slow down to increase your emotional balance. Constantly rushing can give others the impression that you fail to plan, make decisions too quickly, or do not think through the implications of your actions. The fact is, you may not be any of these, but perception is often based on some reality. A constantly distracted person can appear disinterested in what is going on around him or her. If you find you are too busy to connect with others and slow down, it may be time to look at how you are managing your time (which leads to the third idea).
You probably have heard this before but it may be time to check-in on how you are managing your life. Do you frequently find yourself over-promising and missing deadlines or failing to prioritize then blaming others? Do you set unrealistic expectations of yourself, yet are reluctant to delegate? Do you refuse to set boundaries, yet become frustrated with interruptions and distractions? All are stressors that affect your emotional balance.
Mastering emotional balance takes practice, but the good news is that it is much easier to put your phone down and slow down to reduce stress than it is to run away from a tiger.
Christina Schlachter, PhD is the author of Managing Multiple Generations on Lynda.com and her current research focuses how constant information may impact the brain’s decision-making function.
In a 26.2 mile marathon, if I stopped at mile 13 for a while I would finish behind those that did not stop. The same is true for the career marathon. Today is Equal Pay Day and I feel one of the reasons there is a pay gap in the United States is that our policies do not reflect the need for employees to stop or just change pace during the 40+ years of a career.
Approximately 40% of working mothers in the US quit their jobs or turn down promotions to care for a family member. If a parent leaves the workforce, the chance of returning at the same or greater pay is slim to none. Equal Pay will come when we recognize personal and professional priorities change over a lifetime, and government and corporate policies should support these changes as best they can.
The International Labor Organization sets a standard of at least 14 partially paid weeks off for family leave, but according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 13 percent of workers receive a “generous” 12 (unpaid) weeks to care for a new child. In 2012, the US was one of only three countries that does not mandate paid time for new parents (Papua New Guinea and Lesotho were the other two).
There are a few shining stars out there that lead the way in helping create healthy families and resilient workers. New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, and New York have all passed comprehensive family leave policies and The Gates Foundation, Amazon, and American Express have generous family leave policies for their employees. Does your company offer a great paid family leave program? Share it here or on LinkedIn so we can give them a big Social Media cheer. #EqualPayDay
In the announcement of Ms. Thatcher’s death in 2013 the AP wrote: “The Iron Lady, who ruled for 11 remarkable years, imposed her will on a fractious, rundown nation — breaking the unions, triumphing in a far-off war, and selling off state industries at a record pace.” When former President Ronald Reagan died in 2004, the AP lead paragraph stated, “Ronald Reagan, the cheerful crusader who devoted his presidency to winning the Cold War, trying to scale back government and making people believe it was “morning again in America,” died Saturday after a long twilight struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.”
One could argue that both Thatcher and Reagan were doing the same things, just on different sides of the pond. However, I find it interesting that a woman enabling change is imposing, while a man is a cheerful crusader. Words matter.
Was Thatcher a “imposing” because learned she needed to be act that way in a man’s world? Or she was just born that way? It is tough to know if the job made her the way she was or if she got the job because of the way she was. I wonder how Margaret Thatcher would have been viewed if she softened her tone. But, I wonder if a softer tone would have gotten her elected for 11 years as the Prime Minister. I wonder if a softer tone would have helped grow England’s economy.
No one will ever know the answers to these questions, and quite frankly it really doesn’t matter. What I do know is that there continues to be a double standard and a very thin line in how women are judged in our world: women should be strong and confident, but not so confident their will is imposed on others. I am not sure if anyone can walk that thin of a line, so why don’t we just stop drawing lines?
My wish for all women leaders out there is to stop feeling like we need to keep a baby bassinet next to our office, be the perfect blend of sweet and resilient, keep a high powered job while still making it to soccer games, and somehow have time to make sure our make-up is absolutely perfect. I am just as guilty as the next woman for putting these standards out there for myself and honestly, I am exhausted.
To be a good woman leader you don’t need to be the most empathetic person in the boardroom. You just need to be a good leader. Just like the guy in the suit next to you. So let’s stop judging (myself included), and let’s just start leading.
I am not sure about you, but it is next to impossible to not be wrapped up in partisan politics these days. My hope is that one day soon we can start to bring our country together again but it is tough in our current environment to imagine a united country.
It is so easy to live in a polarized world now. On Facebook I don’t have to hear from anyone who does not like the same things as me. On Twitter I can follow whom I choose and ignore the rest, even pretending the rest does not exist. I can choose to listen to MSNBC and read the Huffington Post, while someone else chooses to listen to Fox News.
Nearly half our country voted for change. Perhaps it is not the change Clinton supporter wanted believe in, but nearly half of our country wanted change they thought a Trump Administration could bring. Hillary supporters can lament that Lincoln should have let The South secede from the Union, whether our electoral college is relevant, post facts and figures about correlation between voting trends and college education, and curse email servers and media coverage everywhere. Or we can come together as the United States of America (United being the operative world). We have a great country and I hope everyone who voted for Secretary Clinton can put aside their disappointment and fear, and those who voted for Trump can be gracious. We know a house be divided against itself cannot stand. In order to stand together we need to listen to one another. Reacting emotionally is a time-tested poor strategy. It’s time to work on unifying our great country.
Facebook’s trending news topics are a hot topic of conversation, but I can’t help but think we are blaming the messenger, not the message. Saying Facebook is ruining journalism is kind of like saying Microsoft and spell check have ruined my grammar. Sure I could slow down and check the words I mistype, or even open up an online dictionary, but I don’t. I look for those red underlines and let technology fix my flaws. Likewise, Facebook is merely a delivery technology that we can choose to pay attention to, or we choose to actively seek out multiple news outlets, look for facts about what is happening around the world, and read various opinions from experts, pundits, and journalists. But, for the most part, most of us don’t.
What would happen if we did? In my current research I am doing it every day. Yesterday morning on FoxNews I was overwhelmed with political infighting, on CNN I heard all about Bill Cosby’s trial, and on NPR I learned about President Obama’s trip to Vietnam. On the BBC and the New York Times, I read about the Islamic State and the Turkey’s hidden war with Kurdish rebels. And if I just followed Facebook’s trends? I would be well informed about Jupiter’s moons and an elephant giving birth at the Dallas zoo. (Over the past few days, since Mark Zuckerberg met with right-leaning leaders, the amount of political news in the “Top Trending” corner seems to be on a downward trend of its own).
Frank Bruni, Ross Douthat, and many other reporters are highlighting the impact of Facebook on news. While the medium of news is a necessary conversation perhaps we also need to talk about the message itself, and how we can take ownership for being informed, rather than trusting the latest technology. Democracy only works when citizens participate and are informed about issues the impact society, not just themselves.
Christina Tangora Schlachter, PhD is the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Communication Institute and studies the impact of 24×7 information in our world.