I got some great feedback recently from one of the executive leaders in my advanced training program.
She had been spinning out and feeling super frustrated at work, and I had coached her on how to solve the issue by managing her emotions.
She was grateful, and her feedback to me was this:
“Instead of saying you coach women to get a promotion, you should really say you coach women not to lose their minds.”
And you know what? I do.
I talk women leaders off the ledge all the time.
That’s why I dedicated module 3 of my Executive Ahead of Time program to teaching my students how to manage their emotions.
And I know my process works, because everything I teach is something I have done for myself.
But, I used to really suck at it.
So today I am sharing the tips and tricks that have had the biggest impact for me.
This is the final episode of a three-part series I’ve lovingly named: Things I Suck At.
In each episode, I focus on something I am terrible at and share practical advice so you can stop sucking at this too.
In this episode of Maximize your Career with Stacy Mayer, I am laying out all the strategies and tools that have helped me work with my emotions and step into higher levels of leadership as a result.
If you want to receive the recognition you deserve, step into a higher leadership position, get paid for your ideas instead of the hours you put in at work, and enjoy more time, freedom, energy, and joy, then you need to get your hands on a copy of Promotions Made Easy. Get your copy here.
What You'll Learn:
- Why managing my emotions is the #1 thing I suck at
- My decade-long quest for learning how to manage my emotions
- Why learning how to manage my emotions was the #1 biggest contributor to my success in the last 5 years
- What I teach my Executive Ahead of Time students to do to manage their emotions
- My super practical tips and tricks you can use to manage your emotions
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #111: Things I Suck At Part 1: Setting Boundaries
- Ep #112: Things I Suck At Part 2: My Rocky Road To Becoming An Influential Strategic Thinker
- My favorite apps for managing my emotions:
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
- Get your copy of my brand new book, Promotions Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Executive Suite
- Photo credit: In Her Image Photography
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career, I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited, as always, to be here with you again this week.
So this week is part three of a three part series that I've been bringing to you titled 'Things I Suck At'. And it has been so not only rewarding and freeing as a person, but the feedback that I've been given is that it's been incredibly inspiring to you as the listener to see the way that I challenge myself to act before I'm ready to do things, even before I haven't perfected them, to do things even when I am not great at them myself, but to still challenge myself and put myself out there. And I hope that by listening to the series that you can see that as an example for yourself. When you think about raising your hand to be included in those higher level executive meetings, it's actually really important that you start before you're ready, not after you're ready. And here's the reason why: is because it takes time. So you're going to get invited to those higher level executive meetings. You're going to get presented with a promotion opportunity and you're not going to kick it out of the park right away. And so if you wait until you're perfect, until everything is lined up, until you feel 100 percent confident, and then you raise your hand, now it's almost too late.
So you get the job. There's always a learning curve. No matter where you're at and you end up getting a role and you're overqualified or you're still not included in the conversation or something goes wrong and then you end up having to leave anyway. And I just want to tell you, you're always ready. You always know something that other people don't know. You're always a few steps ahead of somebody else, like literally at all times. And I just want to encourage you to if you see something and you want to do it and you feel inspired to do it, to raise your hand, to ask for more, to put yourself in those situations that are really going to start to elevate your leadership and get you the recognition that you really already deserve.
So today's series, I'm going to be talking about the number one thing that I suck at, which is managing your emotions. And I save this for a number three because I really do think it's the biggest thing that I'm terrible at and I teach other people how to do it every single day.
For example, I was on a coaching conversation inside of my more advanced training programs. I offer one-on-one coaching, and I was speaking with this executive leader who was spinning out. She was very frustrated. She was upset about something. And then I coached her on how to manage her emotions around this particular situation.
And she said to me: Instead of telling people that you coach them to get a promotion, you should really start telling people that you coach them not to kill themselves over the weekend. And I know that's true. Because I'm often coaching women off the ledge. They get very frustrated about something. And why is that? Because we're putting ourselves out there. So in this particular situation, it's because she's being told she's too ambitious. So she's asking for the promotion, she's asking for the raise and she's getting the feedback that maybe she should set her sights a little bit lower. And it's pissing her off and rightfully so. This is the catch 22.
But here's the good news, and this is how I was able to work with her on this situation. It's not actually her boss that's telling her that she's too ambitious. It's her colleagues. And I really want you guys to understand who is the person giving you the feedback? So if her boss is giving her this feedback, then she needs to adjust her communication style with her boss because our goal is not to piss our boss off. And so she might need to adjust how she's presenting her ambition to him. But if it's your colleague, it could be a number of different things.
It's not actually that you're too ambitious or that you need to lower your expectations. It could be because B, because of their own stuff. It's their own drama that's coming up for them. You don't need to take on that drama and change your own personality in the way you're approaching things, just because a colleague feels a little jealous and wants to put you back in your place. And so I really want you guys to see this. So that's just an example of how I was able to coach her and really through quite literally for 30 minutes on managing her emotions.
And then I'm coming to you today talking about how I am terrible at managing my emotions. But I will tell you that I have spent my entire life working on this, and I do know more than you might know in certain areas. And I have cultivated a practice to work with my emotions, and I have figured out ways to manage my emotions that I am not even the same person. If you ask my mom, she will say over and over again, I don't even recognize you sometimes and in a good way. And it's because I have learned how to manage my emotions over the years.
Parts one and two of the series, the first one is on setting boundaries. How I really suck at setting boundaries, but I've learned how to do that over the years. And then part two is on strategic thinking. And this is a huge quality as an executive leader. If you want to be successful at the Executive Suite, you need to figure out how to strategically think and how to communicate as an executive leader is to speak to the strategy and the vision versus all the details. And so this is a practice that even though I wasn't born great at it, I had to learn how to do it and I know how to do it better than most. And so I talk about that in the last one. So go back after this episode if you're inspired and listen to the other things that I suck at in this series.
So today we're talking about managing our emotions. And I want to give you my point of view and why I think that I am an incredibly emotional person. So I am very outspoken. I feel things very, very deeply. I get very, very upset about things. I get very, very excited about things. I mean, you hear me talk about bringing more diversity to the leadership suite. You can hear me get get powerful and strong and passionate about the work that I'm doing. So those are all really incredible emotions and big, big emotions that I feel very deeply.
And ever since I was a little girl, I thought this was a problem, and I thought something literally was wrong with me. I was jumping out of my own skin a lot of times. I felt like I was losing opportunities because I was too emotional. And I found theater when I was in eighth grade. I was in my first musical. It was called Happy Days The Musical. And I was on stage and I remember I got a standing ovation. And this woman came up to me afterwards and she said, you were so amazing. You were the only person that we could hear. And a lot of times when you're labeled as too emotional, usually you're very loud as well. And that was the thing. I was incredibly loud. And so I thought: Man, I just got kudos. I just got recognized because of my emotions. Because I was so emotional.
So I went on to a 10 theater school, I started my own theater company in New York City and I basically spent the next 20 years of my life following my passion and being creative and on stage because I felt like that was the place where my emotions could be free. Where I didn't need to manage them. I could just be exactly who I was. But that wasn't my whole life. I also worked at a hedge fund. I also had relationships with other human beings. I had things that would happen in my life where I would get incredibly emotional. Where I would get very, very worked up. Where I would get too upset or too passionate.
And I thought this was just the way that it was. I just thought: I'm just emotional. I'm a bit of a mess. I've had many, many thoughts in my lifetime that I'll never be successful because I'm too emotional. I didn't see people in the C-suite who looked like me. You might be feeling that way as somebody who doesn't have a lot of really great role models. And so you're like: Well, I don't see a lot of overly passionate, overly emotional people unless they're angry all the time in the C-suite. So maybe I'm just not meant for this job. Maybe I'm just not meant to be in this field. And that's just kind of what I accepted all the way up until my mid-thirties. And then I moved out to California and San Francisco to be exact because Northern California is very different than Southern California. And I found meditation. And in this meditation class, I actually attended, I was very worked up. I was incredibly emotional. And the only thing that they were telling us to do was to sit on a cushion and breathe and inhale and exhale and look at our breath and be mindful of our breath.
And I remember being like: This is a load of crap. And I was very, very frustrated. I actually got up and was pacing the floor and trying to get out of there and see if I could get my money back and all of these things. Please, if you're judging me, it's fine. I am a very emotional person. I wear everything on my sleeve. And the leader of the meditation center. He pulled me aside and he said, Are you OK? And I'm like: No, I'm not OK, I'm going to speak my piece and I'm going to tell you exactly what's going on. And he looked at me in this one sentence that changed my life forever. He said: You were acting like my teenage daughter. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt it so deeply. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I was basically in a meditation center. Nothing was going wrong and I was stomping my feet and frustrated and upset. And I was like: I can't do this anymore. This is not OK. I don't have to be this way. My emotions are controlling me and I don't have to identify as an emotional person any longer. And I started on a quest of figuring out how to manage my emotions.
Up until that point, I just thought it was something that I either had to tamper down, control, not let other people see. And in that moment, I realized it was something that I could actively work on. And so I've spent the last decade of my life learning how to manage my emotions because what's happening is the work that I want to be doing in the world is actually more important than me being a basket case. I'll say that again. If you feel like somebody who is all over the place, always very emotional, always kind of worked up about different things, whether it's a good worked up or a bad worked up, I want you to know and really identify what you really want to be doing in the world and ask yourself if that is more important than you being right, then you stomping your feet, whatever that might be.
Because here's the thing. When you see, let's look at an activist, somebody who is up on a podium who is very powerful, very passionate, very outspoken and they're up on that stage, they are able to manage their emotions. They are channeling their emotions to be that activist. If they are constantly going home and beating themselves up and and flying off the handle and all of these amazing things, what's going to happen is they're not going to have the courage to stand on that podium and let their emotions fly when they need to be there, when they need to be outspoken, when they need to be passionate. Because their emotions are just kind of controlling them. And that's what's happened for me. Is now that I am able to manage my emotions I am able to laugh more. I am able to cry harder. I am able to be passionate when I need to be passionate. And I'm also able to be quiet and listen when I need to be quiet and listen. And that has led to so much more success in the last five years than I have ever seen in my entire life. Ever. Managing my emotions has been the single biggest contributor to my success in the last five years. Hands down, without a doubt. And that is the work that I'm teaching. Module three inside of Executive Ahead of Time is managing your emotions. I know more than you. I have learned how to work on this skill and to figure things out. And in today's episode, I'm going to give you some of the things that I've learned and put to practice in my own life. What I have had to do for myself to learn how to manage my emotions because the work that I'm doing, because I want to channel my passion in the right areas because I know that you need to be in the C-suite someday. And if I don't manage my own emotions, I'm not going to be able to guide you to manage yours. I'm not going to be able to lead you to that C-suite. The same goes with you as an executive leader. If you do not figure out how to manage your emotions, you are not going to be able to lead your organization to do the work that you really want to be leading them to do. You are not going to have the energy to mentor women, to be on board seats, to be start your own podcast to write your book, whatever your thought, leadership, whatever you see yourself doing before you retire, you are not going to be able to do it unless you figure out how to manage your emotions.
So good news. I figured some things out. I'm still working on it actively. I had a breakdown just yesterday and this was, I'll just be completely honest. It was because I'm sometimes checking my email in the middle of the night and ignoring my family. And I got very upset about that because it was actually a conversation with my husband and being told like: you can't keep doing this, you can't be working. And I was like: I know this, right? This is what I teach you guys. You have to pull yourself out of the weeds, but I dip down sometimes too. And I had to do the work and I had to pull myself out, and I had to go back to the skills that I know and managing my emotions.
So the first tip, the first step I'm going to give you, is that there's a lot of incredible, really literal tools out there. And I did not embrace the simplicity of tools like a regular meditation practice, a regular exercise practice, a regular mindset practice. So listening to mantras, listening to positive inspiration podcasts, things and people who inspire you, listening to this podcast, for instance, reading the right books, surrounding yourself with the right people. These are all actual things that help you manage your emotions. They keep you in the right frame of mind to be that objective viewer, to be that person who can see yourself from the outside in. I actually learned this when I was seeing a therapist about a decade ago and she was saying: that's the goal is to really be able to pull yourself out of the emotion and see what's happening, be the observer of your life. You could do nothing in terms of "managing your emotions" and just add some of these tools to your life.
So I'm going to give you a couple of apps that I use. The Insight Meditation Timer. I love it. There's all these incredible teachers there. Headspace app where you can set up regular meditation reminders. The Tapping Solution. This is a methodology where you literally tap on your forehead, tap on your chin and it moves energy around your body. Journaling exercises. There is an incredible journaling app, and I'm losing the name of it, but I will link to it in the show notes. I'll link to all of these resources in the show notes. There is a ThinkUp app that's for positive mantras that you can actually record yourself and remind yourself what you want to be reminded of. There are numerous inspirational podcasts. Subscribe to this podcast if you aren't already so that you actually receive those notifications and those pop ups. These are all resources that you can really set yourself up.
I think about high performance athletes and the work that they're doing, and we're watching the Olympics right now, and it really reminds me of if they just let their mindset go willy nilly they would not be able to accomplish the great things that they're doing right now. And so they actually have a practice to keep themselves in the right frame of mind. And I want you to think about your leadership in that same way. You are a high performance leader. You are doing really, really big things. And so you have to set up these regular practices and make it super easy for you.
That's why I suggested a few apps, because then you can just click on it. It will pop up on your phone. You already have your phone and these are the reminders. This is the simplest thing. And you know it because you know that when you exercise, you feel better. You know that when you do certain things, when you take a vacation, when you walk away, when you go for a walk with your dog, you feel better. You feel more grounded, you feel more confident. You're able to make bigger, more badass decisions when you do these things. So set yourself up. So that's the first thing that I want to mention, because I think we all take it for granted. We think we have to create something new, reinvent the wheel. And in reality, there are so many amazing tools that can just really help us, even if it's only two to five minutes a day. So that's one thing that I started doing is relying on technology to help me manage my emotions.
And the other practice, and this is what I go into a lot of detail inside of Executive Ahead of Time. And this is actually the coaching that I do for women when I'm coaching them on their emotions and their situation. And what's really happening for them is to actually be the observer.
So I'm going to walk you through a practice that I learned how to do, and I use it quite frequently. And what I basically do is I take a piece of paper, so I'm feeling the emotion in the moment and I take the piece of paper. I'm all worked up and I actually write down on the piece of paper, what are all the thoughts that I'm having? Ok, because there is a model that actually was created by Brooke Castillo, and I'm sure that she created it from somebody else. But basically, it's: Something happens. Trigger event. Circumstance. Boss schedules a meeting at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. It's a fact, it happens. And then there's a thought that happens in your brain that actually triggers the feeling. So the emotion is the feeling. But what we're trying to do is identify the thought that is causing the feeling. So the actual practice that I want to share with you today in its simplest form, and you can go much deeper into this. And I've done this training and really worked on how to use the model to benefit and bring more success into my life, but also to manage my emotions better. But the exercise for you is really just: I have an emotion. Let me write down all the thoughts that I think are causing this emotion.
So boss calls me into the office. I have an emotion of anxiety. What's the thought? The thought could be that I've done something wrong. The thought could be that I have...and just list out everything. It feels like it all stems off of, if you have anxiety: I've done something wrong. Or he doesn't like me. Or I don't have time for this. Whatever that might be for you. Just write down like ten thoughts that that could be that are causing that feeling.
And then what I want you to start to notice, and this is where we can become that observer, is we just look at those thoughts as just things floating in the air. The thought that I've done something wrong is actually made up. Because until your boss says the words out of his mouth 'you have done something wrong. This is just your projection on the situation. There's no way to argue around this. You can be like: no, really, I have done something wrong, but still, that's your thought about it. We don't know what he thinks until he actually tells you what he thinks. We don't know what he thinks. We're just making this up ahead of time. And then look at what happens in our situation.
So we spend 24 hours worrying about what the boss is going to say tomorrow. Then when we go into his office and he says, whatever he says, we don't even hear it. We're not able to reply to it because we're still caught up in our own emotion. So the process that I'm sharing with you today, that is so incredibly valuable of writing these thoughts down, it allows us to separate from the thought itself.
So then when you go into the conversation tomorrow, you can look at it as I have the thought that I have done something wrong versus I have done something wrong. So you separate your identity, who you are, what is actually true from a thought. So now, even if your boss says you have done something wrong, you can react to it accordingly. You can say, Tell me more. I want to understand. Exactly what piece did I do wrong? You can stay engaged into the situation. Whereas if you have been spinning out on this idea that he may or may not say to you that you've done something wrong for the last 24 hours, when you go into it, one of two things, you have one of two options, because you haven't managed your emotions around it, you've just let your emotions run amuck, you have one of two options. You're going to go into that conversation and then he's going to say, you did something wrong and you're just going to be like: I knew it. I know what, I'm terrible and you're be like: I have to go and you're going to close the computer or walk out of the office and then be very, very upset. Or the other part of it, which is probably even worse, is that you're going to engage. You're going to be like: Well, what do you mean? You never told me about this. You're going to be very defensive and arguing.
Either way, it doesn't work because you haven't done the work to manage your emotions. So if you want to be successful, if you want to make it into the C-suite and then also be able to bring your whole self to work, your whole passion, enthusiasm, zest for life. When you listen to this podcast, I am not a dull, boring person. I have a ton of emotion that I'm bringing to this podcast, but it's channeled emotion. I have learned how to manage my emotions so that I can bring the fullest expression of myself to this podcast. So if that feels inspiring to you, if that feels like the person that you really want to be seen as... And when I say fullest expression, your fullest expression might not be like me, very outspoken and making jokes and things like that. Your fullest expression could be very intellectual, very inward. That I want to think deeply about problems. Whatever that fullest expression is of yourself, you have to find a way to manage your emotions.
So I hope that my terrible experiences for the last 40 years have inspired you to come out on the other side. And I don't do this perfectly. I am not always in control. I have breakdowns. I get upset. But I catch myself so much faster. I'm able to see: OK, I don't know what the thought is, but I bet this is just a thought. I bet I'm just upset about this. How can I get to the bottom of this? I'm willing, even if I don't know what the answer is yet, I'm willing to investigate it. I'm willing to challenge myself to do better. And it works. It is such an amazing life. On the other side. I am so proud of the work that I've done. I'm so proud of this next plateau for myself and and I'm really proud of this series. I'm proud that I was able to put this out there to use the things that I'm not so great at to give you an example of how we can act before we're ready. How we can step into those higher level leadership positions, even when we're not perfect. Even when we still are working on "managing our emotions", we can still say yes. That is what I want for you. Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you next week. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.