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Passion, People and Principles

Emotional Self-Control

post # 38 — March 29, 2006 — a Careers, Managing post

Consider the following questions about your emotional states:

(a) How easy do you find it to get started? Do you procrastinate or attack each day with vigor?

(b) How easily do you bounce back from failure, determined to try again?

(c) How well do you handle rejection?

(d) What is your level of optimism? Do you usually have the confidence to try anything, or are you the worrying sort?

(e) Can you cheerfully get along with people with whom you have nothing in common, or do you tend to withdraw?

(f) When unfairly treated, do you withdraw from the game or engage with renewed determination?

(g) Do you forgive yourself your faults, or do you beat yourself up about them?

(h) Are you comfortable with ambiguity, not quite sure you’re doing the right things, but ready to act anyway?

(i) Can you function in a team, without feeling the need to dominate? Can you control your ego needs?

(j) Can you handle the stress that comes from juggling multiple demands on your time?

(k) As Kipling asked, “Can you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs?”

Every single one of these emotional conditions will affect your success. You don’t have to be perfect. Goodness knows, I’ve suffered from being on the wrong side of all of these at one time or another.

But if your emotions let you down, your talent won’t save you.

There’s no point having superior skills if you procrastinate in putting them to use. There’s no point being smart if you give up at the first sign of failure.

Getting control of your emotions, and yourself, is essential to let your true ability shine through.


GordonG said:

A good list for evaluating one’s emotional state. But what is also needed is a list of what to do to strengthen one’s emotions when one knows one is weak. And I belief this will be a growing need as commercial/business pressures continue to increase. Having been through a long period of serious depression and now slowly on the road to recovery (I hope) I know how hard it is to recover emotional stability.

posted on March 29, 2006

David said:

If my life experience is any guide, Gordon, the answer is to find the perfect spouse.


There’s no substitute for being truly loved and having someone on your side, for better or for worse.

posted on March 29, 2006

jaylpea said:

I decided to look at your blog for the first time today (after reading an Australian Financial Review article which referred to it).

After being at work for less than 3 hours so far today, I’ve already had enough. Poor emotional state through frustration at other people making work more difficult …

Now I’m inspired to “build a bridge” and get back to work! Thank you

posted on March 30, 2006

GordonG said:

I fully concur, David. Without my spouse of 30+ years I would not have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s been my God-given support and encouragement.

posted on March 30, 2006

Tristan Forrester said:

GordonG wrote: “what is also needed is a list of what to do to strengthen one’s emotions”

Two resources for activities and techniques for changing your emotional state, that I’ve found helpful, are:

1. Caruso & Salovey’s “The Emotionally Intelligent Manager”, Chpt 9 (they are co-authors with Jack Mayer of the MSCEIT emotional intelligence test, which I think David has referred to before)

2. Martin Seligman’s “Learned Optimism” and “Authentic Happiness”. In both books he details useful techniques for managing and changing your emotional state (particularly moving from pessimism to optimism – a must for lawyers) such as disputing negative thoughts and actively counting your blessings.

Seligman also offers compelling evidence that finding a spouse (whether perfect or not) makes you happier and more resilient.

posted on April 12, 2006

Stephen Seckler said:

I believe excercise can do a lot to help us build our emotional self control. But realigning our thinking can also help. I would recommend a book by an author Neil Fiore. It is called Awaken Your Strongest Self. Neil, who is a psychologist/coach/speaker suggests that we cannot go beyond our negative emotions until we acknowledge that they exist. In other words, he completely rejects the concept of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in favor of recognizing why you are worrying and then moving beyond.

posted on April 11, 2007