How To Remain Calm In Challenging Situations: The Key Secret Of Successful Leaders

In Personal Growth
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Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson was my favorite basketball coach to watch at work. 

Which is funny, because Jackson probably burned fewer calories per-game than any other coach. 

You see, basketball is a game of momentum. 

In every game between evenly-matched teams (in the NBA, every team, even the bad ones, is evenly matched talent-wise with their opponent), each team will go on a run or two. 

What usually happens is, when Team A scores, say, 10 points in a row, Team B’s coach calls timeout to “stop the bleeding.” 

You know the timeout is coming when you see Team B’s players looking over at the bench for help in the form of that timeout call from the coach. 

99% of basketball coaches call this timeout when their team is flailing. It’s smart, conventional wisdom. 

It makes the coach, who isn’t playing in the game, appear engaged and focused. It gives the coach some control over the proceedings on the court. 

When Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, he rarely called that emergency timeout. 

When his teams were on the wrong end of a momentum run by an opposing team, you could always find Jackson in the same spot: seated on the bench, legs crossed in a figure-4 position, calmly watching the action with the same demeanor of someone attending a poetry reading. 

Sometimes during that opponent run, Jackson’s players would look over at their coach, their conditioned expectation being a timeout called by the coach. 

Jackson never reacted. 

Sometimes during that opponent run, Jackson’s players would look over at their coach, their conditioned expectation being a timeout called by the coach. Jackson never reacted. Click To Tweet

The players would get the (non-) message, compose themselves, and continue playing, taking it upon themselves to right the ship. 

Phil Jackson won 11 championships as a coach. 

Yeah, he had one-name stars — Jordan, Pippen, Kobe, Shaq — on his teams, which matters.

So I’m not saying that Phil’s propensity for not throwing his players a lifeline during rough moments was the main reason why he won so much. 

But: it was the main reason why he won so much. 

***

If you want to help someone grow, AND find out that person’s capacity for handling challenges, start employing the following tactic — 

The next time someone asks you for help with a problem they’ve been facing, respond by asking, “what are your three best ideas for handling this?” 

I’ve used this question many times with many people. So let me prepare you for the responses you’ll be getting. 

First off, understand that this response is a brain-breaker. A person just asked you for HELP, and you turned around and asked them to supply ideas for solving things on their own…? 

For many people who are in a state of needing help, being asked to brainstorm their own solutions is the last thing they want to hear. 

For many people who are in a state of needing help, being asked to brainstorm their own solutions is the last thing they want to hear. Click To Tweet

So: expect anger, frustration and annoyance (if you get any response at all). 

Second, expect the help-seeker to remind you that they’re asking YOU for help. 

Expect to be told that, if they could solve things on their own, they wouldn’t be asking you for help

Expect to hear “I don’t know” and “I have no clue” or something along those lines from those with the resolve to stick to their help request. 

***

When you really want to help someone grow — or you want to find a person’s capacity for handling adversity — your job becomes quite easy: do nothing. 

Stop helping them. 

Don’t offer solutions. 

Let them twist in the wind. 

See what they eventually do. 

When you really want to help someone grow — or you want to find a person’s capacity for handling adversity — your job becomes quite easy: do nothing. Stop helping them. Don’t offer solutions. Let them twist in the wind. See what they… Click To Tweet

They’ll either crash and burn (and hate you for “letting it” happen to them), or they’ll figure it out (and thank you later for forcing growth on them). 

Then you’ll know exactly who you’re dealing with. 

How much are you helping people with problems that they should be solving on their own? Are you actually helping — or hurting them? Reply and let me know — I read all responses. 

Here are a few MasterClasses on maintaining your composure and handling challenges with equanimity —

#533: Better Challenges = Better Person

#1313: How Life’s Biggest Challenges Work In Your Favor

#1134: How To Respond When Your Confidence Is Challenged

#1033: The Challenge Of “Bringing It” Every Day

#1030: Why You Need To Be Challenged, Questioned And Pushed

#624: Success Draws People and Nonsense That You Won’t Want: Remain Calm

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