Based on Savanting Studies 1 to 6 in Savanting: Outperforming your Potential (2019): Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Jim Carrey
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE PRIOR ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES BELOW⤵︎
I THE CHALLENGE
My career needs rescuing from my emotional outbursts. My strength as a leader is marred by my emotions being hijacked by past trauma and anger tapes about people who damaged me.
When I get triggered, I find myself speaking to my people as if they were the ones who harmed me. This interferes with my ability to lead them. It also hurts my heart that I’m treating good people badly. As a result, the effects of my outbursts are actually re-damaging me.
At more junior positions, I had the outbursts under control. As I’ve risen through the IT department of this Fortune 500 company, the stress seems to be exacerbating the problem. This failing is keeping me out of the C-Suite where my skills and executive mindset suggest I belong.
Company executives put up with my issues because I’m talented at what I do. However, this is not the person I want to be nor the life I want to live. I’ve taken anger management courses, pursued various therapies, mindfulness meditation, and exercise to release the tension. How can I stop this cycle of continuously damaging myself and my people once and for all, Lauren?
Before I begin, Kevin, may I know more about what you consider the highest application of your talents? I want to customize my advice for you. If you’re not sure of your answer, you might go back to the “Define your ideal flow-trigger tasks” section of my Lead from Full Power article.
You’ll want to examine past patterns of events to discover your top-talent-flow theme, your unpaid-work theme, your frontier-pursuit theme, your knowledge-pursuit theme, your creation-pursuit theme, and your successful-projects theme. Any and all of these will consistently point to your strongest talents and passions.
I’m captivated by technology, Lauren. I’m a corporate technology strategist and futurist. Researching technology solutions energizes me. I thrive on using it to upgrade performance and profits across the company and industry. I’m a leader more for my knowledge, strategic capability, and my exciting breakthroughs than my leadership finesse. That’s why people like working for me despite my emotional volatility.
II THE GOAL REDEFINED
1. Disable toxicity
Thanks, Kevin. It’d be ideal if we could go back and eliminate the original traumatic causes of the damage behind your outbursts. However, I don’t want you to relive traumatic events which could also re-injure you. Therefore, I want to redefine your goal to that of disabling the power of past trauma to trigger you. Then we don’t have to waste time trying to remove toxicity from your system.
2. Bio-maximize or self-actualize
Human beings have evolved a multitude of mechanisms and biochemistry to entice us to operate at our maximum. They ensure the survival of the individual and the species. I propose we deploy them to solve your immediate issues while maximizing your career.
The key constellations of maximizing mechanisms I want to harness surround (a) top-talent flow; (b) the brain’s neuroplasticity; and (c) the pull to self-actualization or maximization. The father of self-actualization, Abraham Maslow, defines it as “the tendency for [one] to become actually in what [one] is potentially: to become everything one is capable of becoming.”
If we could actualize or maximize you, Kevin, we could solve your issues with a holistic change rather than a surgical one. Maximization means that toxicity will be deactivated. Maximization also means better performance for career goals. It means achieving and leaving a legacy at your full potential. Let’s look at an actionable strategy for achieving this redefined goal.
III THE STRATEGY
Redesign your work to avoid toxicity triggers
Enjoy a toxic-free state
According to the renowned expert on flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: “One of the most frequently mentioned dimensions of the flow experience is that, while it lasts, one is able to forget all the unpleasant aspects of life.” In flow’s altered state of consciousness, there are no toxic emotions. Theoretically, if we could redesign your job to keep you in flow, your problem would be solved. Unfortunately, not all flow states are equally effective.
However, I invented a subset of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow which will simultaneously provide relief from your toxic outbursts while accelerating your career to self-actualization. I call it “top-talent flow.” It’s the peak-performance, peak-growth, peak-reward flow state that emerges when you perform tasks that apply your strongest most rewarding talents to their most meaningful application for audiences who’ll most value this work. It is the mechanism humans have evolved for instant maximization.
Therefore, my strategy will be to redesign your job so that you spend as much time as possible in top-talent flow where there’ll be no interference from your traumatic triggers. You’ll have immediate relief from toxic emotions. Your cycle of re-injuring yourself with emotional outbursts will cease.