One of the things that I have learned the most about myself as I get older is how to recognize when I am becoming flustered. And I know that when I become flustered I tend to make very bad decisions. And those decisions can often be self-destructive. So how do you become unflustered once you recognize that you are flustered? I don't know the answer to that question, and if I did I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing this article. But if you can at least recognize when you become flustered then you can start to learn how to deal with it. My approach is to find the fastest way to exit the situation and give myself as much time as possible to think about it. Preferably, an entire night so I can sleep on it. Sometimes the best decisions can be the ones that you don't make. It's called damage control.
You see it all the time. Teenage kids get angry at their parents for disciplining them and they start smoking cigarettes, drinking, or any number of other terrible things. Kids don't often understand the concept of damage control; I think it's something that you learn with age. They make self-destructive decisions and punish themselves for no reason. I used get mad at my dad for making me always practice so hard that whenever he wasn't around I would slack off. Now I know that I was only hurting myself and my own flustered mindset fooled myself into thinking otherwise.
When I was a quarterback and would throw an interception, the less that I would let that decision affect me for the next play the better. But that's easier said than done. More often I would find that after any interception or missed play I would let it affect me for the rest of the game. It was like a domino effect. Not until later in my career did I learn that the more even keel I was able to maintain my emotions, the better. Now translate that concept to your life; whatever bad thing that has occurred to you, has already happened. You can dwell on things after the fact of the matter but what's the point of that? You are wasting your time and energy. What's happened has already happened and it’s in the past. The less you can allow it to affect your emotions for the next decision, the better. Develop an ability to separate your emotions from your logical decision making. It will save you a lot of time and money.
But now we are all adults. And that requires adult decisions in many areas but two general areas are business and relationships. So I'll tell you about a time when I failed to utilize self-damage control in business and a relationship(s).
Business: I've never been in a sales position but I've had many situations that I had to sell myself and my business to achieve what I wanted. And thus, I've been in a lot of situations when I've been denied what I wanted (I could write a whole article about failed attempts at women) but the same holds true for my business. And what I've learned is that the less I let a failed sale/schedule/goodwill/etc. affect me going forward the better. The same as when I would throw an interception as a quarterback back in high school. Don't ever let your emotions get too high or too low. The more stable you can train yourself to be emotionally, the more stable and consistent you will be as a person and as a business. Anyway, if I let a failed attempt affect my next appointment, my next appointment is guaranteed to fail every time. The damage control in this situation is obvious; don't allow collateral damage because of one bad appointment or situation. Whether you are a manager, sales person, or peon, the more that you are able to separate your emotions from every single decision, the more likely you are to make better decisions. Emotions = weakness in business. Celebrate rarely, grand daily.
Relationships: So many examples, so many examples… Let me try not to make a fool out of myself here. I think I was a sophomore in high school, a couple months into one of my typical rocky road relationships. During one of our daily arguments, she decided to defy all of my guidance and try smoking cigarettes. At the time I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I’m sure that she only did it to spite me because she never continued. But that decision from her led me to end the relationship right then and there.
Seems a little hasty right? Especially since she never continued the habit right? Ugh, yes I know that’s called jumping to conclusions. And unfortunately I spent several years after that trying to make it up to her… unsuccessfully. Once I realized that I may have overreacted, I wanted another chance. But credit to her, she never gave me another one and I’m sure that was the right decision. Sometimes I can be a handful... but I like to think that I would have reacted differently now.
If you are someone who is as emotional as I am, damage control is critical in your life. I've made decisions before when I'm flustered that I can't even comprehend when I'm not. Personally, the best thing that I've learned to do when I enter a flustered state of mind is to exit the situation and sleep on it. I need to completely clear my mind of the situation. Often I’ll even go write to myself at a bar… (Which is what I'm doing right now). I'm implementing damage control to myself as I simultaneously talk about it. And I'm trying not to engage in an argument with the gentlemen on the other side of the bar that could result in some physical damage to me. Better if I keep my mouth shut…
Learn your own damage control techniques; it could end up saving you a business, a relationship, or even yourself.