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Emotional Agility: How To Master Inner Challenges Without Getting Derailed
by Dr. Jack Zenger
Does being “professional” in the workplace mean employees should check their emotions at the door? There has been a long-held belief that suppressing your emotions is the right thing to do in business — that you shouldn’t bring your personal life into work.
But Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg disagreed when she somewhat famously said, “Bring your whole self to work. I don’t believe we have a professional self Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It is all professional and it is all personal.” I agree with Sandberg. You should bring all of yourself into business. The key, however, is to develop the emotional agility that will help you to bring your whole self forward in a positive and appropriate way.
How do we find that right balance? I recently interviewed Susan David, a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and CEO of Evidence Based Psychology. She explained that in organizations, and in everyday life, we have thousands of thoughts, emotions, experiences, and inner-stories. How we deal with these drives everything we do: our relationships, our jobs and projects. It drives how we lead, and how we interact with the world around us.
Emotional agility is fundamentally the ability to be with and be healthy with our thoughts, emotions, and stories — even ones that might be troubling or concerning. If we do that, then we can still take action that is in accordance with how we want to live and lead in the world. The key is to learn from all of our emotions, including the most difficult ones.
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