I expect it’s different now but the idea of a teacher at the school I went to, pausing mid-lesson, sitting down (they always stood) and saying…

’…Boys (we were all boys) as you go along life’s winding path, you will encounter difficulties and life altering setbacks. At these times, your ability to demonstrate self-awareness will determine the way in which you respond to these difficulties. Listen to yourself and take action.’

That’s all I needed. Just a hint that we each had some kind of  inner resource that we could activate when things got too much.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t on the curriculum.  So we all went off into the world defenceless or some more than others maybe.

For me, it was that simple. If I had known that when I met a barrier in life, I could stand back and have a conversation with myself about what was happening, think it though, make it scalable, I would have saved myself a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

Instead, when pressure came, usually in the form of confrontation or blockage, the best reaction I could come up with was fear which, I’m told, would have been useful in Neanderthal times.

As it is, pressure in the workplace is, in my view becoming less and less appropriate or warranted. The way we work is, more collaborative and transparent. This is good news because when we experience fear we are not thinking rationally and unhelpful feelings are triggered such as guilt and self blame which if not addressed can get out of control.

So, in times of turbulence, exercise your self-awareness. Step back and listen to yourself assess the situation. Then take rational action.  

And if you are in a position of responsibility for the performance of others at work your ability to step out of role and make the human connection with your team members…sharing an experience, giving some advice, encouraging, …it will be appreciated. It might even be life altering.