Staying Calm in Leadership – The 20 Minute Rule


How to Stay Calm No Matter What: Leadership Edition

It’s no secret that our everyday lives throw curveballs our way. But it’s how you respond to these challenges that truly defines your character, especially as a leader. But first, let’s get a little brainy – don’t worry, I promise to keep it light!

The Brain Behind Staying Calm

Your brain is a fascinating organ, and it has two main areas you should get familiar with:

  1. Prefrontal Cortex – This is the superhero part, right up front. It’s where you strategize, make sound decisions, and overall, show off that brilliant leader in you.

  2. Amygdala – Tucked away in the back, it’s the drama queen of your brain, responsible for those impulsive reactions. Ever been so hungry that you could eat a horse? Or so mad you could scream? That’s your amygdala talking.

And there’s this thing called an “amygdala hijack”. Sounds cool, right? Not so much. This is when the drama queen takes the wheel and runs wild. It’s like having a mischievous toddler driving a car – a recipe for chaos!

The 20-Minute Rule: Your Secret Weapon

Want to avoid letting that impulsive toddler run the show? Enter the 20-minute rule.

Whenever you feel like you’re about to blow your top, like when you hear, “Sorry, we stopped serving breakfast,” for the umpteenth time, just remember this rule. Take a 20-minute break. Breathe, go for a walk, or perhaps hum your favorite tune. Anything that calms you down.

The magic? In roughly 20 minutes, your prefrontal cortex – the superhero – will regain control. And trust me, after the break, you’ll handle situations differently. Not out of impulse, but from a place of rationality.

Navigating Challenges with Grace

Let’s talk real-life scenarios:

  1. Email Misunderstandings – Ever sent an email that got taken the wrong way? Communication is tricky. Before shooting off that email, consider your goal. If the intention is to foster understanding, maybe an in-person chat is better. If you ruffle some feathers, be mature about it. Clear the air, and maybe throw in an apology. Remember, it’s about building bridges, not walls.

  2. Homework Troubles – If you’re a parent trying to juggle leadership and homework duties, kudos! But when exhaustion sets in, maybe it’s not the best time to teach little Timmy algebra. Recognize when you’re not in the right frame of mind, and choose another time or seek help. It’s the same with handling professional situations. Be aware of your mental state and adapt.

  3. Difficult Colleagues – We’ve all faced that one colleague who just… tests your patience. But don’t let their behavior steal your peace. Set firm boundaries and, if needed, involve the right channels like HR. Always prioritize your well-being.

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it! The road to staying calm is understanding your brain, employing the 20-minute rule, and navigating challenges gracefully. Embrace your prefrontal cortex, manage that amygdala, and let your leadership shine!

Remember, staying calm is your superpower, especially in leadership. Harness it and watch your success, happiness, and future grow exponentially. Until next time, keep those cool vibes going!

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Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen, Ph.D., is a highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is one of the most booked motivational speakers in the world and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN. She speaks on topics related to dealing with change in every aspect of our lives, so that we can do better and feel better.

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