Q3 · 2017How do you handle the heat?7 questions to find out

Summer’s over, and so – for most of us – is the prospect of some planned quality downtime. Many of us may have had that moment while staring at a sunset over the shoreline, or watching a campfire glow, when we reflected on how we have been delivering our performance and how we resolve to better mix work and life. We promise ourselves that this year, we won’t sweat the small stuff, and we won’t have a meltdown. But whether you’re a seasoned executive or an ambitious manager with years in the trenches, you know it’s easier said than done. It’s one thing to stare at a heat source from a safe distance and decide you’re just going to get better at handling it. It’s another thing entirely to be right in the middle of it.

Many different factors may increase the heat

From 60-hour weeks and endless disruptions to shifting priorities and deadlines, to work versus family to itineraries and travel, from personality conflicts to daily tensions and headaches, there are many different factors that may «increase the heat» for us, as I discussed in last quarter’s post for Spotlight. Learning how to stay cool starts with self-awareness. You need to find out how you really deal with high pressure, know what sets you off, find your flashpoints, and be conscious of your limits. That’s a critical step towards learning how to raise your melting point — that moment when pressure gets the best of you, and you unravel.

Seven questions to start with

Start by asking yourself these seven questions. Use them like an inventory, and answer them honestly, so you get an accurate picture of your own weak points. The answers will provide the foundation of the roadmap you need.

  • How much time do you spend thinking about a problem, instead of acting to solve it?
  • Do you easily get upset if things don’t go according to plan?
  • Can you handle many demands at the same time without getting nervous or feeling like you’re going to lose control?
  • When you’re executing a task under massive pressure, such as a big project on a tight deadline, are you able to keep a laser-sharp focus?Do you find yourself getting angry and upset often?
  • Do you feel like you are often consumed with worry?
  • If something really cannot be changed, do you find yourself dwelling on it anyway, and wishing there’s something you could do?

I suggest you keep these questions handy for a week or two. When a situation arises that relates to one of them, whether it’s at work or even at home, pay attention. Carefully take notes. Being conscious that you’re in fact-finding mode may actually help you handle a tense moment more effectively, but this activity is all about building self-awareness. Observing closely how you perform (or don’t) in the heat of a moment can provide tremendous insight. Once you’re aware of your own warning signs, you can work to get better at defusing a meltdown well before it happens. And if you’re a high performer, which so many of us are, you’re probably motivated to begin.

The Executive Melting Point Inventory

One more thing: It’s a sure sign of a high achiever when you want to get even more specific results. For that I created a comprehensive assessment tool — the Executive Performance Melting Point Inventory — that creates an individual performance profile on how you have been handling massive pressure and intensity when delivering business performance. Whether it’s a momentary challenge or an onslaught of massive intensity, this powerful and scientifically validated tool will paint an extremely accurate and detailed picture of your thresholds. It was created especially for senior executives, business leaders and top corporate performers who need to increase their capacity for sustainable high performance. But it can help anyone who wants to learn how to raise their Melting Point.

Keeping cool is a skill you can learn

As I discuss in my new book, The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-Class Business Performance, a person’s innate coolness may be related to their fundamental psychological constitution, but keeping cool is a skill you can learn and continually improve. And coolness, along with passion and adaptability, are the marks of true performance excellence.

With fully recharged batteries, this might be the perfect time to raise your Melting Point now.

I wish you a successful fall,