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Emotional Agility

Mindfulness, acceptance and values are key aspects of ACT which a colleague nicely calls “a new science of the mind that is sweeping the world of psychology and turning conventional approaches upside down.” But they can sound like weird stuff which require you to cross your legs, grow a goatee and wear a caftan to practice. So it may be reassuring to know that hard-nosed business types use their valuable time learning these skills to build Emotional Agility to thrive and prosper in the corporate world. Susan David is a CEO of Evidence Based Psychology and an instructor in psychology at Harvard University who recently co-authored a superb article in Harvard Business Review available here. Susan speaks about her work in a wonderful 3 minute interview here.

A few weeks later Susan blogged for HBR:

Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, was known for pithy, uplifting quotes like “Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry,” “Change your thoughts and you change your world,” and “When you get up in the morning, you have two choices — either to be happy or to be unhappy. Just choose to be happy.”

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to do a “quick-fix” on difficult thoughts and emotions; the human brain doesn’t work that way. Thousands of thoughts and feelings course through our minds each day. And trying to avoid, ignore or “manage” the negative ones only make them more powerful.  My colleague Christina Congleton and I wrote an article about this for HBR in November, encouraging readers to build something we call “emotional agility” – that is, the ability to attend to and use one’s inner experiences (both good and bad) in a more mindful, productive way.

The first step in the process is to understand your patterns:  Do you buy into your negative thoughts and emotions? (Wow. I really blew that presentation. I’m not doing any more public speaking.) Or do you avoid them? (Just forget about the presentation. Focus on something else.)  Or both?

The response to the article has been so strong that we’ve worked with HBR to develop an interactive assessment designed to help you with this first part of the process and then offer advice tailored to your specific profile. Click here to take the assessment.

And it’s not only in the USA that leaders are using ACT skills to maximise work effectiveness, we have one of the very best here in Brisbane. Rachel Collis is a superb ACT oriented executive coach associated with Brisbane ACT Centre who has done an extraordinary project on Meaningful Success, and collaborates with one of the UK’s leading lights in the work, Rob Archer, and in the US, DJ Moran. Sweden and other countries boast experts in ACT in the workplace – see the Mindful and Effective Employee for a superb guide to building employee’s psychological health and resilience.

Not only in business, but also in sport! There are a number of AFL and NRL teams, along with the Brisbane Roar soccer team, internationally successful golfers, tennis players and Olympians who are using ACT in their performance work – see for instance the work of Jonah Oliver. Not exactly weird, flaky hippy stuff, eh?

I hope you can take just a few moments exploring the above links to explore just how exciting and broad this “new science of the mind that is sweeping the world of psychology and turning conventional approaches upside down” can be in helping people maximise their lives. To finish off this high performance ACT link smorgasboard, here’s a seriously funky, goateed young business-groover’s blog post on “4 IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT MINDFULNESS YOU DIDN’T REALISE.” Happy, productive, effective noticing to all!

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