As a performance coach I have focused on what creates peak performance. I look at the traits, skills, and strategies of the best and coach others to implement these same strategies. As I have discussed in my other posts and podcasts there are key tools that can be applied to improve performance. These include goal setting, visualization, mindfulness, success routines, self-talk, and the list goes on. However, just because we have all of these tools at our disposal it is often overlooked on why we don’t implement these “positive” steps for improvement. I have studied how habits are formed and the importance of repetition in changing behavior. Yet, the one area I don’t talk about as much is the “dark side” of behavior.

Unfortunately, our society is in a constant state of negatively triggered stress state. We are set off by the simplest things that creates fatigue, overwhelm, and unhappiness. This is becoming the norm and for me as a performance coach to take people to peak states is now requiring more work. A triggered state is when we allow our environment to change our emotional state and thus our behavior. Maybe it is how a co-worker looked at you or a driver cutting you off. Before that event you could have been in a happy, productive mood and then it happens. A sudden shift in state because of an external event is the difference between high performing and stressed.

My colleague Nikki Nemerouf has coached high achievers on this concept of triggers. The key takeaways are that one event for one person creates a different reaction then with another person. How you perceive the event is crucial and then how you react. Start noticing when your emotional state changes negatively. Are there commonalities between these events? It is what you are focusing on in that moment that will determine your behavior. When you focus on a particular part of that event you are placing meaning to it. That meaning is different for each person. Once you have been triggered you have choices. Most will use coping strategies to either distract or ignore the negative feeling. This could be to withdraw from a situation or maybe eat a sugary dessert to “feel” different. High performers will look at these coping strategies and challenge if they work or not. If they are not healthy strategies the high performer will utilize other strategies to respond to the event.

These coping strategies could be to take deep breathes, look at the event a different way, or explore a different emotional response. It is okay to feel negative emotions. I just want you to look at minimizing the intensity and duration of the emotion so it doesn’t affect behavior. Understanding that you have choices in what you focus on, how you want to define an event, and how you want to respond, will empower you. Unfortunately, most people live in a constant state of triggered emotions, just trying to survive the next block of time. It is now time to take responsibility for these reactions and shift from stressed to perform.

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