The Importance of Self-Control

We’ve all seen several recent examples in the news of people behaving angrily and losing their self-control.

From reports that Donald Trump was ‘Steaming Mad’ (‘I haven’t seen him this angry’) to road rage (‘Mother dragged woman out of car and beat her up in front of their children‘) and this video of Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver in San Francisco (the argument starts at about 3 minutes 50 secs in the video clip below).

It’s worth viewing the clip to see how he handles the driver’s arguments…and then perhaps critiquing whether it was the best (or indeed only) way to do it. You might also wish to consider the way the driver behaves (again, could there have been a better way?).

Now, before we go any further, I’m not, absolutely not casting judgement on the characters or personalities of these people. I’m simply observing their behaviours as shown by the examples.

And asking this simple but profound question…

What impact does this have on the way other’s perceive you?

As discussed in Susan’s upcoming book (How to have an outstanding career), behaving in ways that are unconsidered expressions of emotion be it in anger, dismissal of others views, irritation or showing fear, can have a detrimental effect on how other people view you. As A Young Professional this could very quickly result in harming your hard won reputation.

To avoid this, you need to practice self-control.

“Self-control is about taking control of your emotions and acting with restraint even when you are experiencing strong emotions”

In all walks of life, top performers are masters at controlling their emotions, because any act of negative behaviour will be noticed by people far more than anything else. People do make judgements about others all the time.

If therefore you can show all those who you come into contact with that you don’t take thinks personally, that you can cope with setbacks, take feedback even if you don’t like it and manage situations optimistically, then others will want to work with you.

And you will be praised because of the energising impact you have on everyone you come into contact with.

Of course controlling your emotions isn’t easy when you feel passionate about something. and no-one should expect to be passionless and robotic.

We are all human and are run by our emotions. Whilst accepting this, its still important to ask;

  • How can I recognise and appreciate my emotions and learn to live with a degree of control over them?
  • How can I take charge of them, rather than simply letting them be in charge of me, especially at times of high pressure?

Here are some tips

  • Take responsibility for your emotions – never say ‘he or she made me mad’ as if it was some excuse for your bad behaviour
  • Stop, engage your brain and think – notice your emotions, name them and consider how to get the best outcome from the situation
  • Reframe the situation – alter the event by highlighting the positive aspects

What may be considered acceptable behaviour when shown by the POTUS or a billionaire CEO, is unlikely to be acceptable behaviour for a Young Professional.

And one can certainly argue that this behaviour is never acceptable, especially from people who are seen as role models by millions of others, but that is an argument for another time.

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