We want to introduce you to something called the path to action. It’s something that we consider to be the source of all emotions. Many of us think that emotions happen to us, you might say something like “he treated me like a child and that made me mad”.
When you see and hear something, and your emotions happen but what we are going to suggest is that we control our emotions. They’re a choice.
Let’s first understand the path to action. In this path of action, the first thing that happens is you see and hear something.
For instance, you are working on a report and your boss checks up on you three times in one hour offering suggestions. What story might you tell yourself about your boss?
You might say my boss is a micromanager.
You might say they’re mean.
You might say they got a lot of pressure on themselves from the big boss.
They’re trying to be helpful.
It’s a wide range of stories we could tell, and we just choose one. It’s almost like we say, what’s the most damaging and hurtful way I could take this and that’s the way we go.
In this case, for this scenario, we are going to think that your boss is micromanaging and questioning your capabilities. They think you are incompetent, that you can’t do this on your own. If that’s the story you tell yourself, how does that make you FEEL?
Well in this case, it doesn’t feel very good. You feel hurt and defensive and this leads to anger. If you are feeling hurt and defensive and angry, how might you then ACT?
We are going hold a grudge and we’re not going to listen or respond to our boss’ suggestions. What’s interesting is that it all happened between see and hear and tell a story. That is a choice.
We often think you’ve seen here something and you feel something and then you tell yourself a story.
The power is if you can tell yourself a new story you can change that emotion.
For example, many of you probably are going through some reorganisations in your company’s right now, and downsizing is hitting your organisation. I was part of a major national organisation that was going through a significant reorganisation and all the levels of leadership were getting the boot.
I was in one of these high-level departments within this organisation and I was one of the few people who weathered the storm.
So, my boss and all my colleagues one day lose their jobs and then the next day the new folks slowly start to trickle in. What I wanted most was to be seen as a reliable, hard-working go to employee.
So, my new boss, Ann comes into town. She was a hard worker, so I pulled my bootstraps and worked alongside her, most days till about 8 or 9 o’clock in the evenings, sometimes some Saturdays and Sundays. After about two months I noticed that I hadn’t received any feedback from Ann, neither a good or a bad feedback. I don’t know about you, but if I’m working extra hours and weekends with no extra pay, I would need a little pat in the back that just says – “thanks for coming in on a Sunday”.
So, what story do you think I told myself when I saw and heard no feedback?
I told myself that my boss is insensitive, and she doesn’t value me. That made me feel under-valued and not very motivated.
How do I then act?
Well, I stopped working late. I stopped coming in on the weekends. I stopped coming in on time. I started to live into what I feared my boss was thinking about me. I wanted most to be this reliable go-to hard-working employee. I’m now playing into I’m not valuable.
It all came from the story that I told myself.
Again, the power is if you can tell yourself a different story you can change your emotions.
Then enters a new co-worker Barbara who had a very different perspective of my boss. She said things like, “aren’t we all so lucky to have Ann as our boss?”. I was dumbfounded because we
clearly had the same person that we were working for, but we had totally different experiences of the same woman.
So, I thought well let me widen my blinders just a little bit to see if she was missing something, to see if there is anything else I could see.
I noticed that my boss did a few different things that I wasn’t noticing before. I went to a very
expensive grad school and asked to have some of those classes paid for way above
and beyond what the regular reimbursement would be for professional development. So, I went to my boss with the with the form which she signed off on it, no questions asked, no conversation. I started to think – oh, my boss values me.
I overheard her talking to someone else and about our team and that she valued me on that team.
I start to feel valued. I get more motivated and my actions start to change. I start coming in on time and becoming that go-to employee that I want it to be.
You can change your stories, you can change your emotions – you just have to tell yourself the rest of the story and stop from asking questions like –
What’s the matter with that person?
What’s the matter with my boss?
Why is she doing this because she’s mean and she’s insensitive?
We need to instead ask ourselves this question-
Why would a reasonable rational and decent person do this?