Guest Blogger: Laura Boyd has over 25 years of experience working with organizations to help them develop sustainable growth. She has been a leader on executive teams for large companies, emerging companies and non-profits, as well as, a business owner. She believes Leadership is the ultimate Delta for change, strategy and growth in an organization.
How many of you remember Stop! Drop! And Roll!? These words are emblazoned in my memory. From the time you step into elementary school, you learn these three action words and, yet, how many fires did you actually have in school? And what do these words really mean? According to Wikipedia, Stop, drop and roll consists of three components.
- Stop – The fire victim must stop, ceasing any movement which may fan the flames or hamper those attempting to put the fire out.
- Drop – The fire victim must drop to the ground, lying down if possible, covering their face with their hands to avoid facial injury.
- Roll – The fire victim must roll on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. If the victim is on a rug or one is nearby, they can roll the rug around themselves to further extinguish the flame.
So why would we be talking about fire when these blogs should be about teams, people, and leadership? Well, the same premise of stop, drop, and roll reigns true when you think about conquering your key moments. There are times that some leaders should stop, drop, roll before they speak or act.
Conquering your key moments is about making the choice to respond to life rather than react to it. A key moment is a triggering event or situation which presents a challenge and elicits a response, like fire. Our key moments are patterns which we are destined to repeat over and over again until we make the decision to overcome them. How we respond to or grow from these key moments showcase the strength of our leadership skills.
First, we need to be aware of the key moment. Like everything, we need to understand what is happening at the time it is happening. We need to be in the present and live in reality. Our life experiences are constantly occurring, one event after another, including ones that bring joy and sorrow. Awareness allows us to pay attention to what is going on and interact with life pro-actively rather than reactively. We cannot change what we are unaware of or refuse to admit. Although it is hard to let go of past experiences and not respond based on those experiences, it is important that we understand what is happening to us right now is just that, nothing more.
Second, we need to have the desire and commitment to change how we might normally respond to the key moment. Overcoming key moments are not easy. Our internal reactions are deeply ingrained, unconscious, and automatic. It’s just like losing weight, it can’t happen overnight, but with awareness, commitment to change it can be done successfully.
Last, we need to redirect or reframe our responses (both internally and externally). As much fun as the Stop! Drop! And Roll! exercise was in elementary school, it was truly a form of practice. They used the phrase to help us remember in a panic and practice it throughout fire prevention week. Conquering your key moments is similar in that there are ways we can interrupt our regular patterns of responding and insert new responses to those key moments. I refer to this exercise as “pause”. For example, you could stand erect, breathe deeply, exercise (take a walk), take a physical time out, meditate, count backwards from five, visualize a humorous scene, or sing - do whatever it takes to interrupt your regular pattern of responding to a key moment to shift that automatic behavior and reframe your response.
When you’re fighting against your own internal fires, it is important to Stop! Pause! And Respond! If we would have learned to conquer our key moments at a younger age as much as learning how to conquer fire, we may all be better off as team members and leaders today.
Where is your next fire? What will you do?