High Performing Business – Discernment – Senses

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Being able to discern real from imaginary threats in business requires over riding your limbic brain and activating your executive functioning brain.

Being able to discern real from imaginary threats in business requires over riding your limbic brain and activating your executive functioning brain.

Whether you’re running a business or leading a project, there are times when you can be shaken to your core. The challenge is to discern the relevant threats from imagined threats.  Usually the imagination of what could go wrong is far worse than what could actually happen.

I developed a tool I call the “worry o-meter” to help me calibrate my senses on perceived threats. Being an empath, sometimes I pick up on another’s anxiety. I needed a system to be able to discern if what I was sensing required elevated action.  The worry-o-meter is pretty simple. I stop the internal chatter with ten deep breaths, a couple arm circles, toe touches and a quick run up and down the stairs. Then I assess the risk that concerns me. I evaluate the probability the risk would occur and then I look at the impact if it did occur.

I got to use this the other day. We had to terminate an employee for something fairly egregious related to a company computer and pornography. He was very angry, lashing out to everyone around him and engaging his family in his ire. One of the employees whom he was lashing out at, thought he saw his car pass by the office several times (it was dark out – it did not look like his car to me). But I felt myself getting anxious as well. While this terminated employee was angry, I did not feel that he was a threat. But  we do often see stories in the media about disgruntled terminated employees coming back to the office with automatic weapons and killing everyone in site so I could understand the anxiety. I evaluated the probability of this happening – it seemed very low – for a number of reasons – access to a weapon, level of emotional stability, location of the office and our ability to see people entering our space, and the existing security in place around the office. The impact – well of course the impact would be horrific.

Several months ago, I had a guy over repairing my refrigerator who over heard a conversation I was having with a family member about concerns for my father’s well being. After I got off the phone, he put a gentle hand on my shoulder and said – turn it over to Jesus.  After I had done the risk assessment, and realized, well the probability of this imagined threat happening was very low, and we had mitigated the chances of it happening anyhow, maybe the best course of action was to take the refrigerator repairman’s advice.

Discernment happens best with a clear head. The worry – o – meter helps with creating the space to assess what is really happening when your physiology is sending you into the fight or flight mode – and you are operating out of your limbic brain.  Learning how to make decisions with your higher level executive functioning brain rather than your limbic brain is what discernment is all about.

Moving from your limbic to executive functioning brain is also a very important skill to have when taking difficult tests – which is one of the skills Cheetah Learning students master that enables them to pass the PMP exam after only four days of prep in Cheetah’s Accelerated Exam Prep program.  You can learn more about how to do this by downloading the free Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the PMP.

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