Emotion, Decision Making and The 3 Dark Horsemen
How much do you notice your feelings driving your actions?
Over the last few weeks how often did you catch yourself saying "I feel like doing..."
If you have ADHD, probably a lot. Emotions form the basis of human motivation. Emotion is the on/off switch for action. Researchers are learning how emotional regulation can be impacted by ADHD. The overwhelmed Global Creative with limited access to their prefrontal cortex can inadvertently rely on their limbic (emotional) system to prioritize their efforts. Responders that we are, when we feel like our backs are against a wall we make fewer and fewer strategic choices and more and more decisions based on how we feel. I call this Emotional Organizing - organizing and prioritizing task and time by emotional more than strategic considerations. When we subscribe to this emotion-led approach, our priorities become clouded and we open ourselves to the Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Action phenomenon. Adrenaline junkies can be very susceptible here.
Over the last few weeks, how often did your feelings vote against taking a specific action?
"I don't feel like calling that recruiter"
"I don't feel like working out this morning!"
"I don't feel like telling her how I really feel!"
Often, in a tight spot, the feelings we tap are negative in nature like fear and anger. More often though we just go about our day not thinking about the choices we are making, choices on intentions we've given great thought and commitment to.
"I want a better job!"
"I want to be healthy!"
"I want to be in meaningful relationships!"
Emotion is an important element in living a fulfilling, positive life. Passion is an absolutely essential strength for Global Creatives. Passion creates interest; interest creates attention and motivation. Tapping positive emotion is essential in determining positive outcomes, personal values and a sense of self (confidence). I am passionate about working with Global Creatives and teaching other coaches on how to work best with Global Creatives. This passion drives my daily behaviors and actions. This was not always the case.
Back in the day, I was a sensitive guy with little understanding of people and process. My sense of self was a bit tattered. Let's call this old self, Small Cam. Small Cam was vulnerable to visits from the 3 Dark Horsemen - Fear, Guilt and Shame. Remember, ADHD makes our emotional experiences either more intense or less intense (this is the paradoxical nature of ADHD - it's the lack of consistent regulation of key EF (executive function) areas. This is why someone with ADHD can be totally distracted one moment and uber focused the next). So many of Small Cam's choices were often driven by these negative emotions in the moment, with little connection or consideration for my bigger picture of success. You cannot make an amazing life when you have negative emotions drive daily actions, big or small. You cannot lead and inspire either. Small Cam could not play a bigger game as long as negative feelings were running the show.
Get a Therapist or a Coach? A Global Creative in overwhelm still has to show up and perform his duties everyday. As Small Cam, I showed up and did the work but without good consistent access to my EF center and had to rely on the old limbic system. For years I thought it was depression as did numerous therapists. When I hired a coach in 1998 she helped me address the overwhelm. Once I got out of overwhelm I could regain access to the smart part of my brain. From here I could tap the positive emotions of passion and inspiration rather than rely on those "back against the wall" emotions related to fear and panic.
Emotions and Teams The impact of negative emotions in leadership situations can have a super detrimental compounding effect. Often with stressed Global Creatives at the helm, important decisions with large consequences are being driven more by how the leader is feeling that specific day and less by fact and proven procedure. This can prove to be short sighted and frustrating for a team when a common principle is being compromised.
Where to Begin:
Begin with what you are doing right now - building a bank of awareness. Noticing behavior is the first step to changing behavior.
Identify what is the driving culprit - For me it was overwhelm. For others it can be a combination of overwhelm, adrenalin, depression or anxiety.
Take steps to address the culprit - Actions can range from professional support to regular time away from the office. My therapy is to run in the woods. Diversifying motivators beyond adrenalin is key to start enjoying an inspiration-based work ethic.
Get back to basics and strengths - Global Creatives thrive on vision and clarity of that vision. Get back in touch with the opportunity, the initial inspiration for the work you are wanting to complete. Get a meeting with an ally to help reconnect to the picture of success. Reconnect with your ideal strength roles and identities.
Cut your losses - Identify loose ends by cutting them loose or delegating.
Identify what's missing - Not having a clear objective and a complementary partner made the overwhelm balloon for me. Now I never leave home without either.
Identify Attachments and Avoiders - Emotions thrive in these conditions. I was attached to 'looking good'. Guess what? I didn't look my best focusing on this ego attachment.
Where are you attached? Are you doing this just to feel good to get some positive strokes?
What are you avoiding? Are you perceiving the obstacle as greater than the opportunity?
Emotional Organizing can be a tough nut to crack but with compassion, understanding, and a focus on awareness, you can move to a work ethic based on inspiration.