High performance & emotions -the importance of adjusting our mental state


High performance & emotions -the importance of adjusting our mental state

All organizations and leaders project an emotional climate that can either hinder or enhance performance. I believe emotions in the workplace are easily overlooked and undervalued when it comes to our personal performance, our performance at work and how we lead others.

We experience 2 types of emotions:

Survival zone emotions:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Stress and uneasiness

Performance zone emotions:

  • Optimism
  • Coolness
  • Invigoration or engagement

Whenever we experience survival zone emotions, our bodies shift into a sympathetic state and our minds ‘go limbic’ as we activate our fight or flight response. This means 3 things:

1. Physically - We begin to suppress immune markers (cortisol, a stress hormone, suppresses the immune system and elevates blood pressure)

2. Emotionally - We are less empathetic (stress reduces oxytocin in the body, which is the chemical responsible for increasing empathy)

3. Mentally - We impair our own performance (fear impairs our cognitive processes and causes us to be less charismatic as a person of influence and irrational in nature)

Powerful People Manage Thoughts With Excellence & Lead Others By Inspiring Them, Not Demeaning Them

What is the cost of communicating behaviours that are dictated by the particular mood we are in for that day?

Leaders within an organization are called to be thermostats, not simply thermometers. One powerful theory that neuroscience has discovered, is that of ‘emotional contagion’; that how we feel, positive or negative, affects the emotional environment of those around us. We quite literally ‘catch’ the feelings of those whom we communicate with.

What if staff performance at work was strongly correlated with how leaders felt and how they projected their emotions at work?

I’ll never forget one of the most powerful quotes I ever heard, from the movie ‘Remember the Titans’ – “Attitude reflects leadership”.

If our emotions really are contagious, then how well are we doing at managing our thoughts with excellence?

10 Ways Powerful People Manage Thought With Excellence:

  • Avoid getting extremely hungry
  • Practice reappraisal for moments when you have been ‘triggered’
  • Erase limiting beliefs
  • Avoid suppressing self-criticism and practice self-compassion
  • Change your ‘story’ about that person or event
  • Focus on proactive solutions rather than passive problems
  • Practice positive projection – Be the cheerleader and not the cynic
  • Adopt a ‘growth’ over a ‘fixed’ mindset
  • Replace doubt with gratitude
  • Meditate, visualize and exercise

I’m curious, what techniques or skill sets do you implore when you fall into the survival zone of emotions and need to get back into the zone of high performance quickly?


High performance & emotions -the importance of adjusting our mental state


Model Breakdown: When we project negatively through our beliefs, thoughts, focus and language patterns, it causes us to go into the survival zone of thinking; fear, anger, stress and uneasiness. This primes a high sympathetic and limbic brain response which activates our fight or flight response, changing the way we feel, how we make decisions and connect or relate with those around us.

Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)

Comments (2)
Ling Lee

Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Thanks for the very informative article :D

Benjamin Young

Benjamin Young, Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

Glad you made use of it Ling Lee