“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.”
– Fulton John Sheen
Most people would agree that it’s easy to feel good – to have enthusiasm, to be inspired, and to find clarity – when the proverbial “sun” is shining. If you walk into your work environment to discover everyone is working efficiently and cooperatively together, it’s likely that this positive environment would evoke from you a positive response, and you, in turn, may find yourself feeling more productive and at ease.
But what if you walk into an environment where others are distracted, unmotivated, mean-spirited or gossipy? Well, if you permit the environment alone to set your emotional tone, your creative energy could easily get derailed, and instead of marching steadily forward toward the realization of your own objectives, you may find yourself putting out fires or allowing the behaviors of others to kill your momentum. Becoming a leader who takes responsibility for making your own weather – which is to say, maintaining your own emotional environment – takes some deliberate focus, especially in the presence of those who seem like they will stop at nothing to pull you off track. Roughly twenty years ago, just as I had decided to transition out of a successful career in corporate America to pursue full time my passion for coaching, I received a crash course in just what it takes to maintain a strong internal focus, even in the face of compelling external opposition.
At the time, I was responsible for training a large sales staff in the skillsets and distinctions that would ensure their – and the company’s success. And while I loved my job and received rave reviews from trainees and superiors alike, my boss, Dan (who was not-so-affectionately known by the other managers as “Eagle” for his micro-managing prowess) seemed bent on making my life at work a living hell. Eagle constantly wrote me up for the pettiest “infractions,” rifled through my desk when I wasn’t around, and even revoked vacation time that had been approved months earlier just days before it was to begin.
Now, it would have been really easy for me to allow by boss’s negativity to drain my energy and enthusiasm, but because I had no doubt in my skills and had received plenty of feedback that I was doing a good job, I decided to view Eagle’s harassment not as an obstacle to fulfilling my vision of becoming a coach, but as someone who was adding fuel to my growing internal fire.
Had it not been for his incessant opposition, my desire to work for myself in a field that empowered and inspired people may not have gathered the traction that I needed to successfully make the jump – or the focus that would be required to continue building my business at each important stage of its development. I am grateful for this invaluable on-the-job training: the one-on-one coaching practice that I left my cushy corporate job to pursue has since blossomed into a thriving, multi-million-dollar international business – not because I never encountered adversity, but because I gained the ability to maintain my emotional center in spite of it.
In the same way that a radio station or news channel broadcasts a certain bandwidth of information that each of us has the ability to tune into, we also have the ability to control tone and quality of the energy field that we surround ourselves in, no matter how stressful or toxic the environment. So, how do you go about learning this skill?
Well, I can tell you that it isn’t about ignoring everything that’s going on around you or becoming insensitive to the needs of your boss, coworkers, or clients. It’s about making sure you’re connected with and present to your own intentions prior to engaging with anything or anyone else. It’s making the decision about how you want to show up and what emotional channel you are committed to resonating on before you ever walk through the door.
Creating quantum success in your career – which I define not only as encompassing monetary reward but also a sense of personal freedom and fulfillment – will require you to become more intentional about the mental and emotional “channels” you spend the majority of your time broadcasting on. To be at the top of your game, you need to bring yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually into complete alignment with the outcome you intend to create.
Begin by making an internal resolution to prepare yourself internally before becoming engaged in any external interaction. In the same way a professional athlete prepares him or herself – physically, mentally and emotionally – before an important game, distinguish for yourself the rituals and daily practices that support you in performing at the top of your game, and commit to doing them regularly. By engaging your power of focus, you can filter through the infinite possibilities that come at you in every moment, and grab hold of the ones that you desire to foster.