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Keeping your cool

Keeping your cool

August 16, 2017

Remember the scene when Spider Man fought a mad scientist who had transformed into a creepy reptile-like monster? In one frame, the scientist was lauded for his groundbreaking achievements, and in the next, he became a two-story monster with 6 legs and pincer claws.

Sometimes truth is as strange as fiction…

Mike* was a Brand Launcher client and a really nice guy - that is 90% of the time. The other 10%? if someone pressed his button, watch out. He would totally blow up and go nuts on the wrongdoer. He turned into a bit of a monster, minus the 6 legs and pincers. (*Name has been changed.)

The outburst usually revolved around seeing incompetence in his team. To him, incompetence meant losing money, clients, and most importantly, his reputation. When it came down to it, he saw the incompetence as a threat to his being. Afterall, it was his name on the door.

See, Mike knew that his outbursts were a problem and were hurting him and his team. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. But in the heat of the moment, he had a hard time maintaining a level head and keeping his cool.

So we mailed Mike a plastic reptile. Really. And it sat there on his desk and made a huge difference.

Here’s why...

When we sense a threat, our “reptilian brain” is activated. This part of the brain is shared with all other animals, controlling our most basic, primordial reflexes. It’s the home of our “fight or flight” instinct where our thoughts bypass our centers of logic, reason and empathy and put us in survival mode. Our reptilian brain is fantastic at defending us against true threats, pumping adrenaline to keep us from becoming tiger food.

But the problem occurs when our switch gets flipped and our threat-o-meter gets a little too sensitive. We mistake a harried employee who made a careless mistake for a tiger who’s chasing us for his dinner. We leave logic behind and set out on the low road of intimidation, anger and revenge.

This impulse is very common and understandable for business owners. In fact, business owners are actually primed for this “fight or flight” mentality. There is scarcity, employees make costly mistakes, and at the end of the day, the bottom line is up to you. We subconsciously think, “I’ve worked so hard to develop this and you’re going to undermine it?! MY name is on the door! This is a threat to WHO I AM.”

And like Mike, you know it’s not good to lose your cool, but once your reptilian brain takes over, it’s very difficult to reel those feelings in.

So here’s the killer question: How do you keep your cool when your buttons are being pressed?

Here are some techniques that worked for Mike and many of our clients:

1. Visual Cues

Enter plastic reptile. Visual cues are the simplest and most immediate ways to remind yourself not to “lose it” with anyone. This isn’t just a cute idea, it really works. What we see affects what we think and feel. I personally have a number of sticky notes, images, and quotes around my desk that keep me aligned with what matters most to me.

First, get clear on what matters most to you and your company, your values and purpose. Then pick some visual cues to keep you on track. They may be a sign, a picture, a fun toy, or whatever works for you.

[Shoot me an email at jongoldman@brandlauncher.com and tell me your favorite strategy for keeping your cool.

Just for fun, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a free reptile replica to keep you on track.]

2. Mini Meditation

This is a fabulous technique to maintain your composure in the moment. Meditation triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to counter our sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response to daily stresses. In layman’s language, it mean it keeps your reptilian brain from taking control.

Here is a bonus tool: A short, guided mini meditation video that you can use whenever you want to do a quick, 60-second mediation. 

3. Be a Coach, Not Cop

Instead of going into cop mode, catching your employee doing something wrong, become a coach. Use the 6 Coaching Questions to coach your employee through the issue at hand. You’ll simultaneously deeply understand your employee, his or her motives and offer constructive guidelines to help him or her improve.

4. Have a Courageous Conversation

I want to make this very clear. Keeping your cool is not about letting negligence or poor performance just slide. That’s reckless and ineffective.

The goal is to take control of your immediate flash of anger to enable you to then work through the issue at hand in a safe, productive way, what we call a Courageous Conversation.

After maintaining your composure and getting in touch with your rational self, find the right time and place to talk through the conflict.

Read about how Jeff Jeffry, CEO of IMRCO, used Courageous Conversations to build his team in a dramatically new way, resulting in their most profitable year ever after 100 years in business.

[Shoot me an email at jongoldman@brandlauncher.com and tell me your favorite strategy for keeping your cool.

Just for fun, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a free reptile replica to keep you on track.]

When you’re really down on yourself for flying off that handle, just remember this simple fact: reptiles can evolve.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be.


P.S. Don't forget to check out and save the 60- Second Mini Meditation Exercise so you have it on hand anytime you need it.