There are probably as many ways to answer this question as there are professionals on this planet. I say that because I believe that how we feel about our feelings, and about the expression of our feelings, has a lot to do with our childhoods, how we were raised, and he sum total of our life’s experiences.
My Leadership Chat Co-Host, Steve Woodruff, and our Leadership Chat Guest Host this week, Dan Rockwell (“Leadership Freak”), both have described themselves as stoic New Englanders; they are very comfortable with the idea of suppressing their feelings. As a full-blooded Italian that’s a concept I simply cannot wrap my head around. (It’s hard to wrap your head around anything while flailing your arms wildly, but I digress…)
Our different approaches to recognizing, addressing and expressing our feelings are rooted in our families and probably go back generations.
So What’s a Leader to Do?
There is one thing that I think we can all agree on: as humans we bring our full selves to work with us, feelings and all. We are body, mind and spirit. What matters is what we choose to do with those feelings once we’re “at work.”
1. Deny our feelings: We can pretend that we don’t have feelings, that nothing affects us and almost convince ourselves that this makes us stronger.
2. Suppress our feelings: This involves recognizing these feelings are there (perhaps resentment that someone got an assignment you didn’t get, for example) but choosing to ignore them in the hopes that somehow everything gets better.
3. Address them: This is, in my opinion, the healthiest of the options physically and emotionally, but where the approach becomes critical. Using the example of resentment caused by not getting a particular assignment…
- Expressing the resentment by taking it out on others in anger or rude behavior is, obviously, not the right approach as a leader or a person.
- Choosing to address your feelings and allow them to lead you to a learning experience seems ideal. (“I’m feeling a bit surprised by this decision, can you help me understand what I can work on in order to be a strong candidate for a similar assignment?”). By explaining your feeling as “surprise” rather than resentment -even though you know it’s resentment – you’re not giving negative energy to the conversation and it becomes easier for someone to respond. By being fully open to the learning opportunity you’re more valuable to the team and to your company.
- Working on understanding your feelings, letting go of the feelings that no longer serve you, and replacing them with emotions that are in your higher good can lead to dramatic personal growth. I personally spend a lot of time every morning writing about my emotions that I know are holding me back, giving myself permission to let go of what holds me back, and empowering within me new, replacement beliefs that take root and blossom into healthier emotions. It’s a constant process of growth.
What About Passion?
Now, when it comes to bringing passion to work I have very strong feelings about this… (wild, Italian arm flailing ahead…!)
I think passion for your role is critical if we, as leaders, are going to raise the energy, consciousness, prosperity and wisdom of the planet.
I think it’s possible to be in a role that you are not passionate about and to be successful at it, but I think we are meant to follow our passion and to live fully aligned with our True Selves.
And I believe to be at the top of our game involves bringing the passion within us to life…just as depicted in the photo of Djokovic.
So…What do you think?
Please share in the comments and join me, Steve and Dan at Leadership Chat on Twitter this Tuesday, November 1st at 8:00 pm. Based on the tweets I’ve already seen, it promises to be a lively, noteworthy chat!
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Photo is “Novak shows some emotion” by toga.