Identify a tough challenge you have had in your life; one so tough you did not know how you would ever come out of it. And then, unexpectedly, you came out on top.
Now think of a second situation like the first one — another situation where you did not know how you would ever get out of it and again, you triumphed. Now call the first one L and call the second one B.
Situations we go through trigger emotional activity. How we handle this emotional activity will determine the next phase — our post-situation state. If care is not taken, one situation can alter the way we see the rest of our lives.
Author Daniel Goleman calls this emotional hijacking. Research has shown that emotional states tend to monopolise brain resources. As author Vanesa Van Edwards says, it is much easier for an emotion to control a thought than for a thought to control an emotion.
When an emotional hijacking has happened, people — irrespective of their position in society — do the most unexpected things such as commit murder. Ironically, after they have committed the action, they rue what they have done. Many people feel so bad or embarrassed after the hijacking. For some, the hijacking is itself in the form of paralysis.
The coronavirus emotionally hijacked society, pushing many people and organisations into paralysis. Yet, for each story of hijacking by the pandemic, there are also people for whom the pandemic was the best thing that ever happened.
So, who is calling the shots in your head right now? Is it your thoughts or your emotions? When emotions are calling the shots you cannot see clearly and as such even the opportunities that may be staring you in the face will remain invisible — blocked by the emotions.
How do you know you have been hijacked? First, pay close attention to yourself. Many people are able to read signs in their business and other people but not in themselves. Has there been a sudden change in your behaviour?
The good news is that even the hijacked can break free.
When biblical David was going to confront Goliath, his strength came from having faced two impossible situations — one with a lion and the other with a bear and on both occasions he triumphed. Drawing strength from these experiences, he saw Goliath in the same light and he was propelled to victory. We all have our own lion and bear stories akin to L and B. Recollecting certain experiences can reproduce the same emotions as the original experience.
You can replace negative emotions by recalling positive experiences that will come with positive emotions. This is very important in winning the emotional war of the pandemic. Even if vaccines are released today that instantly put an end to it, many will still be dealing with the emotional hijacking that came with the pandemic for a long time. That is, unless they set themselves free.
It is also important to expose yourself to new information. Read, travel and watch things that inspire you and can give different perspectives and new pictures. No one has to be a victim. Your business does not have to be a victim.
When all fails, get a coach. All champions have coaches. A coach can help you see different sides. The coach is gifted at bringing out the best in you.
Wale Akinyemi is convenor of the Street University (www.thestreetuniversity.com) and chief transformation officer PowerTalks; [email protected]