The Emotional Advantage
Walking into the wind along the Jersey City waterfront this morning I look back over the Hudson River at the resilient Manhattan skyline and make the most important decision of my work day – how I’m going to feel at the office.
One hundred days into a new Chief Marketing Officer job, I think a lot about the crucial role emotional health plays in success. I’ve been happy at work and I’ve been miserable at work. Happy is better! Not just for me but for my whole team and ultimately for a tangible difference in company results.
This is especially true for anyone in a leadership role. I’ve never seen a job posting that says “whiny executive wanted” or heard the words “that guy seems stressed and cranky; let’s put him in charge!”
Emotional health offers a company a large untapped advantage that is largely ignored. In this case ignorance is far from bliss; it is perilous, because companies are populated entirely by people with feelings and ignoring them does not make them go away. The only emotions we can be fully responsible for, however, are our own. So while the emotional health of your workplace isn’t totally under your control, when you claim your own emotional advantage you can share the boost in creativity and productive energy it provides.
Early in my career, I completely failed to claim this advantage. In fact, like most people, I did not even know it was available to use. I joined so many demoralized companies or departments you’d think I sought them out, like that friend who repeatedly attracts the same bad relationship with different people. Worse still, instead of using an emotional advantage once I’d chosen a company, I joined in the camaraderie of commiseration – reinforcing the perception of how much things sucked and how powerless we were to change them. You won’t be shocked to learn that my early career wasn’t crowned with glory.
What changed? Sure I learned some things about the craft of Marketing and accumulated some good experience. But the more you achieve in your career, the less those hard skills matter and the more how you relate to and inspire (or demoralize) others comes into play. For that, the emotional advantage is foundational. I’m still not sure what makes that unhappy commiseration so attractive, but even in the toughest circumstances, the least helpful thing you can do when co‐workers are sinking in emotional quicksand is to jump in too.
Gradually I began to integrate years of work with emotions and the limiting beliefs that fuel them into my work life. Claiming my own emotional advantage allowed me to connect with disgruntled colleagues, not by diving in, but by throwing them a rope. It turns out that rope‐throwing is a valuable skill when there are problems to solve.
For the “how to" to claim your emotional advantage, I refer you to the work of Mandy Evans, especially her helpful book, “Emotional Options.” Here’s the “why.” If you have been trying to succeed at work so you can be happier, reverse that equation and prioritize being happy first. That in turn will likely make you more successful at work. If you want to lead people, that goes double!Back to the Jersey City boardwalk where I recall my first day leading a new team at a new company. Like every team and every company, it has problems and holds promise. I look over the water and say to myself, “no whining.” What follows is a hundred days of magic!
You can learn more about Jeffrey Pease by visiting http://JeffreyPease.com