Posted by Juan Quien | August 08, 2018 | Blog
The Dream Job
He couldn’t believe his eyes. The subject line in his inbox suggested that a position in the company that Steven had been salivating over for years was within reach! He was ready. He had been following the company since it was a start-up, kept himself up to date on their blog, knew all the movers and shakers. A metallic taste rose in his mouth when mid-interview, Steven had an offer for a position he did not want in his dream company. Shit. His stomach dropped. He felt the same emptiness and disappointment of a date gone wrong with Ms. Right.
“I don’t want this position, but I don’t want to lose the opportunity for a job at this company,” he thought, as the conflict rose. Confused, he did not know what to do. He wanted to decide. He thought he had too. After all it is this company. Without pause, he reacted. He accepted the position and a package that was lower than he wanted or deserved. Caught in conflict, Steven had fallen prey to a brainstem reaction called flight, disguised as impulsivity.
Locked in Conflict
I’m all about the Doing. To quote one of my favorite saying from Star Wars: “There is no such thing as try,” Yoda chides Young Luke, “you do or you don’t do. No Try!” I LOVE that! So, I get it. We all have shit to do and when it comes to making decisions and moving things forward, we need to Do.
But to DO effectively, we must be able to See what is actually happening. When we are presented with “Don’t Wants,” stuff we don’t want to happen, old programming in the brain automatically drives us to react. Sometimes we see our reactions if it is in the obvious form, such as Fight, when we yell or scream. But when the reactions are hidden, we miss them. Hidden fight looks like control, hidden flight avoids conflicts and hidden freeze ignores the problem.
Steven had two don’t wants (he didn’t want this job and he didn’t want to lose this company). In the presence of this conflict his brainstem swooped in for the rescue. Conflict is uncomfortable. Our brainstem is the part of our brain that is designed to protect us when we feel threatened. The discomfort of the conflicting don’t wants screamed “THREAT!” to his brainstems and so he reacted.
To get rid of the threat and to avoid the conflict Steven’s brainstem said ‘Flight’ and he took it. He needed to decide to get rid of the emergency of the conflict and thus he reacted by behaving impulsively and deciding quickly. Conflict avoided, threat abated and he is left with an impulsive, shitty decision.
An Internal Emergency
Many times, we say to ourselves after making a quick decision, “I knew I should have waited.” What we didn’t see is that the quick decision is less about the external factors, and more about the internal emergency that is set off at the level of the brainstem that alarms “I’m uncomfortable, get me comfortable, NOW!”
Impulsive decisions can derail our own professional lives. And they do so often because they go unseen. More important, we don’t realize that they are in fact NOT decisions, but rather reactions. When this happens, our behaviors can leave us feeling confused, second-guessing and blaming ourselves.
See the Rush
So, what do we do to deal with our brainstems and impulsive behavior? Three steps:
SEE: Stop yourself from making these brainstem ‘decisions’ by first SEEING. Notice the presence of the don’t want or two or three don’t wants and know that your brainstem is wired to react to the discomfort and conflict that will arise. SEE the reaction and know that you can rewire your brain to respond, instead of react.
CHANGE: Learn how to use the principles of neural-plasticity to train your brain to recognize and move around this primitive pattern of reaction. You can learn how to see the hidden reactions and get to the higher areas of the brain where you have access to true decision-making skills.
DO: Take the action that your higher brain level offers. That is true responding and clear decision making.
Fuel your change
You can begin to break your reaction-driven impulsive behaviors today! Take my See. Change. Do. 21-Day Challenge! Click here to learn more. But if you really want to make an investment in fueling your change, join me in October when I'm hosting a two-day, weekend event to help you begin to See. Change. Do. in Your Relationships- we are relating to ourselves all day long! Come learn how to get better at relating in your personal, partnering and professional life.