Numerous studies show how critical it is to remain calm, both in personal and professional life. I can’t tell you how many times I see the lack of this cause problems. The ability to stay calm is one of the key ingredients to success, whether you are working in a corporation, an entrepreneur, athlete, or in any career field. I found that, among other things, calmness increases performance, and it is not only critical to professional success but also relationships outside of work.
We love this quotation from entrepreneur magazine of “Many of the world’s greatest achievers, including entrepreneurs, athletes and artists, could not have reached their level of success without learning how to stay extremely calm under pressure.” Another famous quotation is “Pause-Think-Breathe-Choose” before saying and/or doing anything.
I can recall from books on Navy SEALS I have read and their calmness. Maybe the best president we have had in a long time (in my humble opinion!) Barrack Obama was the king of calm, and he held a major PR event in front of hundreds of people as the SEALS were in Afghanistan killing Bin Laden. And not one person could tell from his demeanor what was going on…Obama was so calm. Warren Buffet is a King of Calmness, professional basketball players on the free phone line hitting a game winning shot, etc. Calm is critical to success.
There have been multiple surveys completed on the importance of Calmness as well. One of the largest was done by Talentsmart, and they had one million participants. The results show that 90% of those who are the top performers (at no matter what activity they do) were able to remain calm, managed their emotions, and stayed in control.
Life will throw challenges at you as we wrote about here. It can be a family losing a job and struggling to pay their rent, medical issues, divorces, bullying or people calling you names, death of loved ones, threats, or any of countless things. Experts say there are many things to do to stay calm, and personally this is always something I have tried to do. I have tried to follow these steps.
- Maybe most important, you do not need to reply or say anything right away. Or reply at all. Pause. Things can wait hours or even days….better to step back, clear your head/take a walk, or do anything then firing off some hostile, panicked reply or yelling or screaming that almost always makes the issue significantly worse.
- Reflect, and do not react. For example, it is OK to go to bed angry. Sleep on it, get some perspective, and the next day discuss it. Sleep can clear head and give perspective.
- Breathe…deep breathing is very effective at calming oneself.
- Diet and excersie…caffeine, alcohol can create anxiety and are the enemy of calmness. Eat healthy, fruits, veggies, and eat a consistent diet on time, same days, etc.
- Disconnect. Cell phones, tablets, and computers, social networks and the blue light from electronic devices is proven to impair sleep, lead to anxiety, and cause you to be less calm.
- Exercise…go for a walk, get fresh ear, exercise to clear and head and reduce stress – anxiety.
- Keep things in perspective.
- Take action after the situation has calmed down…the solution is not to flee, but take a step back/space to calm down. Then, when the time is right, address the underlying issue.
I can’t tell you how many times I have faced people that lost control and were not calm. Whether it is my parents growing up (alcoholic dad), siblings, co-workers in the corporate workplace, or personal relationships, losing the ability to be calm is very harmful to those people and situations. The lack of ability for others to stay calm has seriously hurt relationships in my past, including over the last year.
While disagreements and rational, hard discussions are fine to have (and should be had), when one is not calm and is irrational that is when those discussions should not occur as damage can be done. As studies show, including one from Psychology Today, saying one or a few hurtful words (especially certain words) can sometimes do irreparable harm.
In the workplace it had led to people not getting promotions as they were shown to yell, lose control, and not be reliable/calm. The lack of calmness in my siblings and the anger/fighting is one reason my family is distant. And over the years relationships and friendships have also been seriously hurt and/or wrecked from people who lose the ability to be calm and who resort to saying hurtful or angry things. If people were calm, then many stories may be different.