Yoda on Regulating Your Emotions

yodaAs we continue Star Wars Week, I am making every effort possible to contain my excitement for this weekend’s extravaganza. Like the Jedi Master I yearn to be, this ability to control my restlessness is an essential aspect of successful leadership. And who better to teach us than Dagobah’s own, Yoda.

Yoda is the ultimate sage of the Star Wars universe. You may argue that it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Yoda taught Obi-Wan; hence, the sage of the sage is truly the ultimate of sages. One of Yoda’s primary lessons in utilizing the Force and avoiding the Dark Side involves the ability to regulate one’s emotions.

You will know [the good from the bad] when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

Yoda’s wisdom is supported by a recent study which found that an individual’s expression of frustration, anger, and dissatisfaction compromises their ability to act in a constructive manner. It precludes others from reacting favorably to their input and adversely affects performance, promotions, and growth opportunities. Additionally, leaders who display a lack of emotional self-control generate a culture of disengagement, poor communication, and generally low morale.

As leaders, we set the tone. If our go-to response is panicked and reckless then we are creating unrest. This sucks up the positive energy and replaces it with needless tension. Instead, minimize unhelpful distractions through the awareness and regulation of your emotions. A few practical steps include:

Taking Part in Introspective Activities. We are each capable of enhancing our attentive competence. Such practices as journaling, meditation, and regular physical activity are proven to increase the ability to direct focus, filter out distractions, and manage emotions. These activities may feel like an indulgence, but they are effective if done on a frequent basis.

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

Prioritizing Your Attention. We are surrounded by distractions that undermine how we react to unfavorable situations. Multi-tasking, technology, and unfocused strategies divert our attention from what’s happening in the now. To conduct truly meaningful work, we can add value via facilitating (versus directing), one-on-one conversations (vs lecturing), and personalized motivation (vs ubiquitous “good jobs”).

A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.

Conserving Free Time. We face intense demands on our time; it’s easy to blink and realize another week just went by. To maintain the emotional state for which you aspire, block out time on your calendar for weekly creative sessions. This will help replenish your mental energy and provide a sense of control, which is essential for emotional regulation.

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.

Follow the path of Yoda to retain control over how you choose to display your feelings. Unless you lack a general sense of self-control (in which case leadership may not be your fore), it is not difficult to think before you react. But it does involve a conscious decision to determine how you want to be seen. If you want to be viewed as a “Jabba the Hutt,” act however you like, but if you want to be the “Yoda,” do not try to carefully pick your words and actions… “Do or do not. There is no try.”