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Calm Under Stress

Phares Dans la Tempte, by Jean Guichard

While working at a Christian ministry years ago, our HR department put all managers through leadership personality awareness training, using the DISC method.

DISC defines Dominant (Direct), Inspiring (Interactive), Supportive (Steady) or Cautious (Conscientious) leadership styles. DISC is another version of the common A, B, C or D studies.

While labels vary, the ABCD styles are generally A) Dominant, B) Social, C) Analytical and D) Cautious. Many know about, “the A-Type leader.” Sometimes the “A” also references the first letter of an anatomical region unflattering of the labeled subject.

Per the DISC method, I scored as a “High S-type leader.”

Except under stress.

Under stress I went full “D.” So much so, the instructor used me as an oddity example in front of the class of managers. Classmates chuckled as they identified with her assessment that I was normally pretty easy going and analytical. Threatened however, I was Patton.

Through time, I’ve recognized this as a substantial weakness. Regarding successful hostage negotiators, I recently read that they are, “calm under pressure.” While cherishing the framed picture (above) I received on a birthday after our hostage incident at that ministry, I never felt I deserved it. It is an inspiration to become, but it wasn’t me.  I go “D” under pressure and D also (with me) represents defensive; a real “A.”

Can we walk out Hebrews 11:34 and turn weaknesses into strengths? Yes.


Think About it

The first step in any corrective process is to recognize weakness. If we can’t do that, we can’t improve it.

Then study ways of correcting it. After reading devotionals, inspirations and articles (I am analytical), the best one came from Inc. Magazine. In that 2014 article titled, Use Neuroscience to Remain Calm Under Pressure, it lays out 4 things;

  1. Understand the Biochemistry
  2. Label the Emotions
  3. Slow your Breathing
  4. Relabel Your Emotions

In summary, the portion of the brain that triggers emotions is trainable. We can instill calm rather than fight or flight. When you sense emotions, objectively recognize them. The article next referenced tactical breathing. As you breathe, replace emotions with objectives (turn worry into concern; alarm into curiosity, etc.).

Recognize emotions injected by normal pre-programmed brain functions, intentionally breathe, then control emotions and manage the threat.

Managed responses beat careless reactions.

Lord help me (help us) lead, without ever being defensive.


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