Why you focus on things that aren’t important

“Okay, on a scale of 1 to 10,” I asked my client, “with 10 being most important, what would you rate this issue?”

We were going in circles as he told me about his frustration with teams that weren’t using certain software the way he thought they should.

He thought for a moment: “A three.”

“A three?!” I said, my head exploding a little. “On a scale of 10? Why are we even talking about this?!”

And with that, we changed the discussion to something that was actually important.

When you’re chronically in survival mode, this kind of unproductive focus on things that aren’t, objectively, that important happens all the time. Your ego sees potential threats everywhere: So you fixate on why X isn’t happening instead of focusing on what’s strategically important.

I’m not saying these aren’t issues to be addressed. But just because something feels important (from an emotional standpoint) doesn’t mean it is high priority.

And in high alert…

  • You’re easily distracted, or you over-react, become aggressive or defensive
  • You waste valuable mental energy in redundant thinking and complaining — without taking productive action.
  • You don’t feel safe to give away control so you micro-manage.

Being fixated on perceived threats doesn’t lend itself to effective leadership. Because what happens when those around you observe this behavior? They don’t feel safe to tell you bad news or what they really think. They feel like their energy and initiative are being squelched. “What’s the point of giving my best effort?” they think.

But imagine you could take a step back from your impulsive, emotional reactions and instead operate from a place of calm understanding. That you could keep a clear perspective, eliminating stress over petty, unimportant stuff and make better decisions.

Here’s what my client Ryan says: “By not being in survival mode, I have more real-time awareness of my own emotions and can manage my ego better. I have more real-time awareness of subtle cues from others that I can use to challenge them or extract the right information to make for a more productive conversation, more mental bandwidth to create who I want to be, which enables me to process information much more objectively so I can be a better leader and add more value to what we are doing.”

If you’d like to have more real-time awareness so you can feel more in control, then let’s talk. Schedule a free leadership breakthrough call and we’ll create a game plan for you to get out of survival mode so you can amplify your influence as a leader.

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