Don’t you agree?
Have you ever had those days when you simply can’t focus on anything. Like those days at work when you are burdened with all these work load, and before you know it, it’s already 11 am and you have yet to accomplish a single task. A single task. Or those days at home when you know you have all these dishes and laundry to do, yet you feel like staying in bed for a few minutes more, and then you look at the clock and it’s already noon. Indeed, time seems to fly when you are feeling unproductive. Ever thought about what could be the reason why?
Last week’s Harvard Business Review article, Help Your Overwhelmed, Stressed-Out Team, offered some useful, practical approaches to help a leader keep her team calm and focused.
But one key element was missing from the mix: the leader’s mindset. If a leader is filled with stress, conflict, anxiety, and negative emotions, it spreads like a virus. A steady dose of toxic energy from higher-ups will encourage valuable team members to update their résumés rather than their to-do lists.
Our Brain on Stress
When we’re under stress, the brain secretes hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that in the best scenario mobilize us to handle a short-term emergency, but in the worst scenario create an ongoing hazard for performance. In that case, attention narrows to focus on the cause of the stress, not the task at hand. Our memory reshuffles to promote thoughts most relevant to what’s stressing us, and we fall back on negative learned habits. The brain’s executive centers – our neural circuitry for paying attention, comprehending, and learning – are hijacked by our networks for handling stress.
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