What happens when the heat index is this intense?
- People try to escape from it
- People tend to feel exhausted
- More effort is required to stay engaged
- Systems are pressed to their limit; air conditioning and dehydration come to mind…
The National Weather Service reminds us excessive heat is dangerous,
“The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible.”
When something or someone is intense, it is an indication of an extreme degree of something…like the temperature, but of course I’m thinking about people.
Intensity often shows up as a strength overextended, the use of force or authority, that raw emotion on display; unproductive behaviors.
For most of us, “being intense” happens sooner or later; for some it’s right now, not later. Which best describes you?
When does intensity happen in your work and life?
Intensity, as an unproductive behavior, often shows up when
- Expectations are not met
- Cooperation is not received
- One’s control feels threatened
- Emotion-based fear sits in the driver’s seat
One of my recent clients began their coaching engagement with “off the chart” intensity. As we examine the story, his on-boarding was poorly managed with unrealistic expectations. His up line manager’s behavior was driven by personal success and advancement, too.
Combine all the details with his core motive “to be right” and what happens? Unregulated behavior (intensity) designed to say, “I’ll show you; I’ll prove I can do this job!” This created success-limiting behavior.
Misery accompanies “off the chart intensity” (like a hot summer day) and you know what misery likes, right? Yes, company.
Could that be “career-limiting intensity”?
Perhaps you heard about the JetBlue airline attendant, Steven Slater and his intense, on-the-job demonstration. As the story goes, Slater reached his breaking point with an alleged passenger situation; he grabbed a beer, popped open the emergency exit door, took a ride down the inflatable slide, and ran across the tarmac to his car in employee parking. Could that be “career-limiting”?
What’s interesting to me is how this story seems to resonate with people in the workplace. It seems to be the “fantasy story” for a frustrated, under-appreciated, and over loaded work force.
Sara Kagle, an 18 year airlines’ veteran writes in the Wall Street Journal about her experience in the crew room after the misnamed “jump to freedom” incident.
I headed to the airport on Monday having just heard about JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s now famous jump to freedom. I expected a reaction, but not the phenomena that has followed. In the crew room, I could hear everyone sharing the news. The story was still unbelievable to me, and to everyone else. One fellow flight attendant didn’t believe me when I told her, another heard it and thought there must be more to the story — and, indeed, investigators are questioning the account.
But, mostly the reaction was the same: “I love this!” “Good for him!” “He’s my Hero!”
So, why do flight attendants feel this way? Do we really think that Steven Slater is a hero?
I’ll let you read her article for her take as this post is about the impact of intensity in your work.
How might you avoid an unfortunate, regrettable experience ignited by the demonstration of intense behavior?
Three, no Four Simple Steps
Consider these simple actions as a place to begin to help manage your intense moments…
- Breathe; a slow, cleansing, deep breath
- Smile; (I know, it is counter intuitive, just try it and see)
- Repeat, “I’m cool” (something is threatening your identity)
- Reality Check: What’s true here? What’s my desired outcome?
Simple, not easy, especially during the intense moment.
Consider this: What is the cost of intensity on your relationships, performance, health, and life?
My client emailed me after a couple of coaching sessions:
I have had a great couple of days. I feel more confident and stronger than ever. I also saw my level of intensity for the first time, kind of disappointing. (Emphasis added)
Enjoy reflecting on these questions, if you wish:
- How intense are you on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (extremely)?
- When are you the most intense? Listen to your story…
- How do you view your intensity, as a strength or weakness?
- How do you think others experience you when you are intense?
- How do you know that?
As for Mr. Slater
His unproductive behavior is allowing him to be charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and trespassing. According to the WSJ, Slater
…has been cast as a working-class hero by some in the media and on the Internet for telling off rude passengers and then quitting in style. His attorney said Slater…who pleaded not guilty to the charges, appreciates the support but isn’t enjoying the spotlight and only wants to return to aviation.
“This is a man who only cares about his industry, the airline industry,” Mr. Turman said. “He wants to thank JetBlue. It is a wonderful airline. Steven loves working for them and wishes to continue working for them.”
JetBlue has said that Mr. Slater has been suspended.
What is the impact of a “high intensity index” on others around you? Much like the 105 degree temperatures people will…
- …try to escape from you
- …feel exhausted around you
- …invest more effort to stay engaged working with you
- …be pressed to their limit
Intensity has its price, so remember:
Breath…Smile…Repeat, “I’m cool.”
And, take that reality-check.
What do you think? How do you combat “too intense” in today’s intense work place?
Please comment below; I’d love to hear from you.