“Enhanced by our powerful brains, something as artificial and arbitrary as a deadline can easily be mistaken for a death-threat, triggering our traumatic memories of childhood helplessness, which in turn trigger the mindless reflex of the stress-response.”

― Joe Loizzo, Author of Boundless Leadership.

Has that ever happened to you?

It is 7 pm on a Friday, and Lionelle just received a Slack message from her manager Fen. Fen had an idea to perform an analysis for the executive team. She expected to see a draft by Sunday night that she would like to share with the executive team on Monday.

You didn’t expect to receive such a message.

It was a habit to check her Slack while filling up the gas tank on the road trip she had planned to spend with her friends.

Lionelle is now thinking:

  • How do I break it to my friends that I need to work on this weekend?
  • When will I be able to make time to work?
  • Where could I get a computer so I can access all the data?
  • Will I have enough time?
  • Should I cancel the trip and drive back?
  • Will I get fired?

As Joe refers, in his new book, we default to using the reptilian part of our brain in times of stress. Then, we go into survival mode using compulsive behaviors driven by a cocktail of hormones running through our system.

What could you do differently?

Could you share with your manager that you already had plans and could commence work on this analysis on Monday morning?

In this example, Lionelle was planning a weekend trip with her friends. Of course, if necessary, it could be canceled. But what if it was something more essential, such as helping an elderly relative get medication? Or perhaps a ceremony or service you needed to attend?

At the very least, wouldn’t it be beneficial to dialogue with your manager to find some compromise?

Wouldn’t that be better than having an imaginary dialogue with yourself?

Surprisingly, it is much harder to do this. I know I experienced this myself.

Many times I have reacted to a belief I had. And then, I convinced myself that this belief was a reality without validating it. And in the end, it becomes a disservice to my team and me.

The solution is to create better relationships with your peers and leadership. It can start with helping your peers understand more about your situation and the circumstances you might be facing.

Again, I find someone in my team telling me something: “I think client X doesn’t think I’m doing a good job.”

I respond, “Well, have you asked client X?”

Any research or sleuthing will fall short of just asking client X.

And almost every time we hear that the doubt is just in our head.

Unresolved doubt will cause a cascading effect. First, doubt creates insecurity, which affects psychological safety and performance.

It just isn’t worth it.

What question will you ask today to give you more insight and help you avoid reacting to your beliefs?