A conversation with a Struggling Executive Director (part 3)

October 1, 2017

The dialogue in this article is purely fictional.  None of it actually took place, but the ideas and thoughts in this dialogue are nonfiction.  All the ideas and thoughts I talk about in this article are based on the teaching of four of my mentors: Jack Canfield, Anthony Robbins, Dr. Peter Senge and Stephen Covey.  You’ve got to give credit where credit is due.

 

Part 3

 

The Power of Emotions

 

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow”

                                                                          Melody Beattie.

 

When I arrived at the office early this morning, the air was filled with a feeling of despondency. The office was unusually quiet.  This is different, I thought.   This place is usually buzzing with activities.  The sound of laughter is its trademark; today, well, everyone seems to be subdued.  Something is going on.

 

Not long after I sat at my desk, Anna sulked into my office. 

 

“I am afraid I have bad news,” she said in a somber voice. 

 

“Do tell,” I replied.  I was filled with concerns. What might be bad enough to transform a cheerful place into a gloomy one, I wondered.

 

“Let us talk in my office, please.”

 

Anna led the way, head hanging and shoulders slumped; I followed at a distance, watching her. We sat at her small round conference table, her facing the window. She gazed out the window at something that wasn’t there, the creases in her forehead beginning to set.

 

After few long moments she looked at me and said “, we lost a major donor. “   

 

“I am very sorry to hear that,” I said, then added, “what happened? Who was the donor?”

 

“Mr. Cox.  He called me yesterday and told me that he can’t support us this year, but I have a feeling it is not going to be just this year.  He said that he doesn’t believe that our work is making the impact he had hoped for.  He told me he felt that he was no more than just an ATM card and that his concerns were not important to us.”

 

I sat, motionless, listening to her recounting the details of her conversation with Mr. Cox.  Anna was always meticulous about details, and her recount of her conversation with Mr. Cox was no exception.  I could see through the movement of her eyes, her hollow facial expressions, and the way she was breathing, that she was experiencing a multitude of emotions: fear, anguish, disappointment, and even a hint of anger. 

 

“What do you think I should do to regain his confidence?” she asked.

 

“Nothing.”

 

Her eyes got wide, “nothing?”

 

“Yes, nothing, at least not at this time.  You see, you really didn’t lose Mr. Cox yesterday,” I added.  “You lost him while ago. Yesterday was just when he officially told you. Nothing you can say to him right now is going to make a difference.  I do think, however, that you need to immediately get out of this emotional state you are currently in.  You can’t possibly think clearly while you are in this negative state.”

 

“Well, emotions are not a switch, you know?  You can’t just flip a switch -- ”

 

“As a matter of fact, you can,” I interrupted.  “You can start by putting a big smile on your face.” 

 

“I don’t feel like smiling, besides, I don’t know how smiling is going to change the situation.”

 

“I know you don’t feel like it, and I acknowledge that smiling is not going to make Mr. Cox change his mind.  But you can’t surrender to these negative emotions you are having right now.  It is not only impacting you alone.  They are spilling over to your staff.   And if we were to be effective in discussing strategies, we must first put ourselves in an empowering emotional state.”

 

“Okay, explain to me how.”

 

“You remember the riddle: ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’  Here is another ‘which came first’ riddle for you:  ‘are we smiling because we are happy, or are we happy because we are smiling?’

 

You see, our emotions are tightly linked to two important factors: our physiology and our mental focus, both of which are currently working against you. Every emotion we experience in our lives has certain physical attributes associated with it: our posture, our movements, our facial expressions and just as important, our breathing pattern. Change any or all of these attributes will drastically change your state.”

 

“NLP, right?”

 

“You better believe it.  I know you are very acquainted with NLP, you told me you attended a training seminar on NLP last year, so here is a perfect opportunity for you to put what you learned in practice.”

 

Anna adjusted her posture; she sat up in an upright position and started regulating her breathing.  I could see a hint of a smile creeping on her face.  To create a rapport, I mirrored her breathing, posture, and her smile.  I can already see the change in her state.  I guided her through a quick breathing and visualization exercise. 

 

“How are you feeling?” I asked at the end of the exercise.

 

“I feel much better.  I feel calm, collected; I feel confident.”

 

“Confident that this situation is nothing more than a minor setback?” I inquired.

 

“Yes… just a minor setback,” she affirmed.

 

“You know?  The quality of our lives is a direct reflection of the quality of our emotions.  With an attitude of gratitude, we can’t help but feel confident.  When we are grateful, we are strong, we are rich, nothing can break us.  When we are ungrateful, we are weak, we are poor.  I recommend that you incorporate this visualization exercise as an integral part of your early morning routine.”

 

“Thank you, Ibrahim.  I really feel way much better.  But, when are we going to discuss strategies.”

 

“In due time.  You see, strategies are an important factor for success.  But the truth is that strategies carry only 20% weight.  80% is our psychology, our emotion, our attitude, our mindset, our belief system, and the standard we set for ourselves. We must learn how to master them, so they can propel us toward success.  But, right now you have an important task ahead of you.”

 

“What is that?”

 

“You have to meet with your staff and inspire the same level of confidence in them.  They are waiting to hear from their leader that this is …”

 

“A minor setback, “ Anna finished my sentence.

 

“Well said.”

 

 

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