An Emotional Self Awareness Exercise

Sealed Mindset

Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion

Dr. Robert Plutchik, a noted psychologist, has given us a great tool to assist in developing some level of awareness regarding our emotions and our emotional self-awareness (defined later). Plutchik has outlined eight core emotions:

  • Joy
  • Trust
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Anticipation

The wheel you see above shows low energy and high energy forms of those emotions as well as combinations. For example – the high energy form of trust is admiration. The low energy form of trust is acceptance. The combination of trust and joy gives us love. A key part in developing your emotional intelligence and leadership capabilities is to be fully aware of your emotions and the emotions of others.


5 Things to Improve your Conflict Management Skills

A Core Leadership Competency

Nashville Skyline

Conflict is probably the hardest to develop, most underused, and easiest to get wrong of any leadership competency.

Behaviors that we see often include:

  • Individual avoids conflict – usually at any cost
  • The smartest guy in the room syndrome
  • I win and you lose attitude (or I win and and I hope that you win too)
  • Capitulates early and often (gives in or gives up)
  • Finds accidental conflict on a regular basis

Do any of those resonate with you?

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. Max Lucado, author



Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life (Wiley, 2007)

This engaging and fast-paced story clearly explains how managers and leaders from all walks of life can use the principles of Energy Leadership to inspire themselves and others to achieve extraordinary results in whatever they do. The author provides insight into a cutting edge coaching process he has developed, which has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people in both the corporate and private sectors.

3 Things Leaders Aren’t

Sealed Mindset

Leaders aren’t the smartest person in the room.

Leaders aren’t problem solvers.

Leaders aren’t negative.

Smartest Person in the Room

“If you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room.” Anonymous

To paraphrase Steve Jobs – hire smart people and let them tell you what to do. Certain industries (medical and engineering come to mind) are notorious for a room full of smart people. Do you watch The Big Bang Theory? We all laugh at Sheldon Cooper and his lack of emotional intelligence and his “always right” attitude. But, how does that really play out in your work environment?


Judgment Day

Winona Bridge

Judgment Day

Regardless of your religious beliefs, you likely associate “judgment day” with a processing of a life’s worth of action and information. And yet, we make judgments every day will little to no information to support that judgment. defines “judgment” as “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense, and discretion.”

We believe our judgment to be objective– because, after all, we formed that judgment (or opinion) with all the necessary facts at our disposal. Right? Let’s look at an example to see how this works in real life. Suppose that you are driving in morning traffic (and you are late for a client meeting) and a car in your lane stops – blocking traffic. A woman jumps out of the driver’s seat and opens the back door.  You can’t see what she is doing, but you start to form judgments anyway:

Your Assumptions

Old bolt

Your Assumptions – What Do You See?

What do you see when you look at the picture on this page?  A tree, prairie grass, whispy clouds in the sky?  Most of us do.  How might a squirrel view the tree – as a source of food (walnuts/acorns) or shelter?  Somebody else might see this tree as a future source of income.  With proper pruning and care it could become a very valuable log from which to make veneer.

There really is no right or wrong answer.  They are all correct.  It depends on the view of the person.  Assumptions act in the same manner.  Your perspective, your assumptions lead you to form a perspective – and that perspective (what you think) – creates a feeling that leads to an action.  This Think-Feel-Act scenario happens to us many times a day.


How do you use judgment?

Canoe on lake

How does “judgment” show up in your life? defines “judgment” as “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense, and discretion.”  That is the textbook definition of “judgment” but that isn’t necessarily how it shows up in the real world.

We believe our judgment to be true–because, after all, we formed that judgment (or opinion) through objective reasoning. Right? Let’s look at an example. Suppose that you are driving in morning traffic and a car in your lane stops. A woman jumps out of the driver’s seat and opens the back door.  You can’t see what she is doing, but you start to form judgments anyway:


What is Your Inner Critic Saying?

Loan oak

What is your inner critic saying?

Oh that pesky inner critic.  The one that doesn’t want us to be embarrassed, or fail at a task, or that keeps us in the safe zone.  Sometimes, that inner critic does in fact keep us safe – call it gut feel or intuition.  Other times, that inner critic keeps us from setting that big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG).  Keeping them separate is clearly a challenge.


You have the option of walking away from or ignoring a negative person.  But even when you walk away your inner critic continues to reinforce the negative.  One method that we use in coaching is to give that critic a name – humanize the critic (gremlin might be a better term).  Ask the gremlin critical questions about why they are saying what they are saying.  You will find that these gremlins are just naysayers and have no basis for reinforcing the negative comment from another person.  Asking your named gremlin critical questions will silence them and provide you clarity on setting that BHAG and going after it.  Here are a few things that you can do to silence that gremlin:

  1. Change your limiting beliefs.  (See our post on Limiting Beliefs)
  2. Resist making snap judgments.
  3. Know that past performance is not indicative of future results.
  4. Put your gremlin to work in your favor by asking them to find a solution.


Anabolic Energy vs Catabolic Energy

Mississippi River Bridge
Winona, MN

Energy:  Anabolic and Catabolic

Bruce Schneider, in his book Energy Leadership:  Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core, identifies two types of energy that are present in our lives:  anabolic and catabolic.

Anabolic Energy

Anabolic Energy is positive, constructive, and uplifting.  It heals the soul.  It is the type of energy that allows you to set and achieve goals; provide genuine care for another person; and lead a low stress life.  This energy is typically associated with endorphins and oxcytocin (the love hormone).

Catabolic Energy

Catabolic Energy, on the other hand, is contracting, draining, and results in a low ability to resolve conflict.  It is the type of energy that is present in our fight or flight response and is typically associated with hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.  It is a great response to have when you are trying to escape from a burning building - but it often exacerbates tense situations that require a more nuanced reaction.

Energy Leadership

Neither energy - anabolic or catabolic - is inherently positive or negative.  They just are.  The power comes in your ability to channel that energy into the desired outcome.  And more importantly, to identify the energy in others and to help them channel their energy into a desired outcome.  Sometimes that requires a shift. Many of us lead hectic lives - work commitments, social life, running the kids to events, and making time for our significant other.  We often find ourselves on the reactive end of the catabolic hormones.  Become aware and help your body find the natural ability to supress the catabolic reaction BEFORE you engage with another person.  And by the same token, setting a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) might just get you all pumped full of endorphins and you lose the ability to properly focus and direct your team.

What is your Energy Leadership Index?

Limiting Beliefs

Old Hay Rake

Your limiting beliefs are leading you to fail!

Limiting beliefs are hurdles that you place in your path that prevent you from moving forward or these beliefs alter your path in a direction contrary to where you want to move.  You place these limiting beliefs in your road and only you can remove them.

Here is a classic example of a limiting belief.  The entire world believed that it was impossible for a human being to run a mile in under four minutes.  That is except Roger Bannister. On May 6, 1954 he successfully ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds – thus proving false the limiting belief.  That record time lasted less than two months – 46 days actually.  Today, to compete on a national or international level in a mile race ALL runners accomplish the mile in under four minutes.