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Weekly 3: How emotion impacts your performance


Idea Journal Weekly 3

May 30 · Issue #193 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Emotion plays a larger role in our performance than many of us would like to admit. Acknowledging this is a key step toward using your emotions to your advantage.
(~5 min read)

#1. Identify your deepest motivations by pressing your "emotional hot buttons"
Athlete and sales coach Steve Siebold writes in his book 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class that while most people are motivated by extrinsic factors like money and material possessions, world-class performers are motivated intrinsically: by their dreams, desires, and passions. 
Siebold argues that the problem with external motivation is that it’s short-lived.
Motivational pep talks may be fun and temporarily motivating, “yet lack the real fire emotional motivators generate.”
Great leaders and coaches know that the secret to motivating themselves and others is to move from logic-based motivators to ones that are emotion-based.
Siebold recommends asking yourself the following five questions to uncover your emotional hot buttons:
  1. What am I willing to fight for?
  2. What values do I hold dearest to my heart?
  3. What values would I be willing to die for?
  4. If I could achieve a single thing, what would make all my hard work worth the struggle?
  5. If I had 30 seconds left to live, what would I tell my children are the three most important things I learned about how to live a happy live?
#2. To be a better coach or teacher, first establish an emotional connection
Author Daniel Coyle writes in The Little Book of Talent that at some point you’re likely to find yourself in the position of being a coach, mentor or teacher – whether “at home, or at work, or on the playing field.” 
Based on his research of master coaches, he offers the following 6 tips to help you be more effective:
1. Establish an emotional connection in the first few seconds.
Coyle writes that effective teaching is “built on trust” and, generally speaking, each of us decides in the first few seconds of interacting with a person whether we trust them. 
There are different ways to build that initial trust: from eye contact to humor, to body language and showing empathy – whichever option you choose, you should prioritize that connection above all else. 
“Before you can teach, you have to show that you care.”
2. Deliver information in “vivid chunks.”
Many of us have come to believe, largely through the influence of movies, that great teachers and coaches “stand nobly in front of large groups and give inspiring speeches,” but in reality the opposite is the true.
The best teachers and coaches don’t stand in front — they stand alongside their students and deliver information in small, vivid chunks that are customized for the learner.
3. Avoid “mushy language.”
Coyle writes that one of the biggest mistakes teachers and coaches make is using “mushy, imprecise language.”
You want to communicate with exact nouns and numbers, and avoid adjectives and adverbs that don’t tell the learner precisely what to do.
Here are some examples:
Instead ofMove your hands higher
SayMove your hands next to your ear
Instead ofPlay the song a little faster
SayMatch the metronome
Instead ofPlease work more closely with the sales team
SayPlease check in with the sales team for ten minutes every morning
4. Create a scorecard for learning.
Coyle argues that the problem with most scorecards — from sales figures to performance rankings to test scores — is that they distort priorities, and lead us to focus on winning today at the expense of the larger, longer-term goal.
Instead, he suggests creating your own scorecard, with a metric that helps you focus on the skills you want to develop in your learners. 
For example, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, wanted the company to have the most skilled customer-service team.
The typical metric used to measure a customer service team’s performance is the number of customers served per hour, but Hsieh wasn’t merely interested in efficiency – he wanted to make people happy.
He then began tracking those times when customer-service representatives delivered extraordinary service, what the company calls “delivering wow.”
Delivering wow became the basis of the scorecard, and it seems to have worked: Hsieh once anonymously called the company in the middle of the night asking if he could order a pizza, and received a list of the five pizza places closest to him that were still open.
5. Solve for “reachfulness.”
For Coyle, reachfulness is the essence of learning – the point at which the learner is “leaning forward, stretching, struggling, and improving.”
As a coach, mentor, or teacher you should think like a designer: What environment can you create that will encourage the learner to tip from passivity toward reachful action?
6. Aim to develop independent learners.
Coyle writes that your long-term goal as a coach, teacher or mentor should be to help your learners improve so that they no longer need you.
Instead of being the center of attention, you should create an environment where people can reach on their own: “Whenever possible, step away and create moments of independence.”
#3. In an economy based on connection, your “emotional labor” is what stands out
Author and marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book The Icarus Deception that, given the pace of cultural and technological change, we’ve entered a new, “connection economy” that has the following characteristics: 
  • We have a surplus of choice, quality, and entertainers to choose from, but we’re still lonely and we’re still bored.
  • The connection economy works because it focuses on the lonely and the bored: “It works because it embraces the individual, not the mob; the weird, not the normal.”
  • This new economy revolves around the linchpin: the person we can’t live without, the individual who chooses to do work that matters.
In this new context, our traditional measures of value and productivity no longer apply.
As Godin argues in a separate blog post, it’s emotional labor – and not physical labor – that’s now in demand: “The work of doing what we don’t necessarily feel like doing, the work of being a professional, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term outcome.”
For Godin, here’s what emotional labor looks like in practice:
  • Raising your hand to ask the key question instead of remaining silent.
  • Working with someone instead of firing them.
  • Listening when we’d rather yell.
  • Being prepared instead of waiting until the last minute.
  • Doing the work that we know needs to get done instead of giving into fear or laziness.
As he points out, of course it’s difficult – that’s why it’s so valuable. 
After all, “Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake.”
Quote of the week
“It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place.”
- Author and psychiatrist Gordon Livingston in his book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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