I am suspicious of the word “self-management.” 

Folks consider it a desirable leadership skill.

Still suspicious.

Do we mean “act nice?” Do we mean “not upset people?” Do we mean “act professional” – one of the most loaded clichés in the corporate lexicon?

Most of us mean, I surmise, manage our emotions.

Workplaces are a sanctuary for professionals who have self-managed themselves out of feeling anything. That’s when “stuffing it” has become a way of life.

Most of us, I surmise again, believe that this is not a good thing.

You know the saying “I’m in a crappy mood?” The word “crappy” provides shelter for all sorts of emotions that don’t feel all that good. So what do we do when we find ourselves in crappy-land at work? And when being crappy, in that meeting, with that person, isn’t an option?

Here’s the “un-stuffing it” guide to gliding through crappiness:

  • Notice: When I notice, I am aware that I have a feeling about something. I notice that something is happening. A habitual “stuffer” has stopped noticing.
  • Observe: When I observe, I hand-out with whatever it is am feeling. I choose to not stuff it. I choose to not express it. I just hang-out for a bit with whatever it is I am feeling. The beauty of observing is that I get to watch my crappiness change all by itself.
  • Express: When I express, I let someone know what I am feeling. Because this expression was preceded by measured observation, it is more likely to have the impact I desire.
  • Shift: When I shift, I decide to not inflict my crappiness on others and assume responsibility for getting myself into a more opportune state of mind.

Awareness of the moment is the real skill. When we are self-aware, self-managing is a breeze. When we are not, we revert back to – yes, stuffing it.

And how do we shift, you ask?

I have many answers to that marvelous question. But I will leave you with my absolute favorite, courtesy of the magnificent Alisa Alexander, Senior Developer of Strategic Education at Mary Kay Cosmetics:

Fake it til you feel it.

It is not about acting fake.

It is not about being inauthentic.

It is simply about taking the bold leap into your desired emotional state.

Sure, it may feel fake for a moment or two.

But then – yowza – reality will catch up with how you are already acting.        

A lot more quickly than you think.

And that’s pretty darn cool …


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