In the blink of an eye, anxiety spreads. Every reaction, impulse, gesture, and word touched by it can change into something impulsive, less beneficial, unintended, and potentially harmful. Anxious and calm energy resonates in the same way good and bad energy is transmitted from one person to another. Cultivating a calm internal presence enables social change leaders to elevate, honor, and respect those around them under heated and charged circumstances.
Anxiety can be triggered by almost anything because humans are hardwired to react to real and imagined threats. Heads of households, leaders of movements, emergency response administrators must all learn to regulate their own anxiety to be effective during periods of sudden change and high stress. Before leaders can support others, they must first adapt to the change, threat, and stressor. The capacity to regulate impulsive reactions inoculates families, social change efforts, and teams from self-sabotage and potential derailment.
Leaders capable of self-regulation lower their teams’ temperature, creating time for thinking, adjusting, and responding appropriately to new circumstances or threats. During heated situations, the benefits of lowering the temperature accrue immediately and often prevent threats from escalating. When the attributes of calm prevail, cognition grows, acting as an antidote to impulsive, anxious, and potentially harmful reactions.
|Anxious groups and individuals:||Calm teams and leaders:|
|operate at high temperatures, resulting in frequent breakdowns, low trust, poor results, and repeated mistakes||operate at variable speeds resulting in infrequent breakdowns, increased trust, consistent results, and continuous improvement|
|are prone to impulsive behavior, quick fixes, poor listening, overreact to unwelcome news, and blame individuals for group failures||encourage sustainable solutions, listen, ask helpful questions, use bad news as learning opportunities, share and take responsibility for successes and failures|
|spread bad news, rumors, gossip, and misinformation quickly||Do not spread unsubstantiated information and rumors by focusing on task, strategy, and results|
|react to problems based on the anxiety of their leaders with little to no consideration as to the unintended consequences||regulate their anxiety, think through and prioritize issues based on their degree of importance and urgency|
|scapegoat, blame others and do not accept responsibility||practice altruism, take responsibility, credit others, and praise publicly|
|lose momentum causing projects, strategy execution, and lost opportunities||build on and take advantage of momentum to innovate and achieve breakthrough results|
|operate on pure passion leading to burn-out, repeating mistakes that limit positive outcomes||balance passion with rest and rejuvenation, celebrate wins, experiment, and create possibilities|