Emotional Agility

The prevailing wisdom says that negative thoughts and feelings have no place at the office. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. David and Congleton have worked with leaders in various industries to build a critical skill they call emotional agility, which enables people to approach their inner experiences in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way rather than buying into or trying to suppress them. The authors offer four practices (adapted from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT) designed to help readers do the same:

Recognize your patterns. You have to realize that you’re stuck before you can initiate change.

Label your thoughts and emotions. Labelling allows you to see them as transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful.

Accept them. Respond to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention and letting yourself experience them. They may be signalling that something important is at stake.

Act on your values. Is your response going to serve your organisation in the long term and take you toward being the leader you most want to be?

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