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Several weeks ago Nikki Nemerouf addressed my CEO private advisory board at their monthly meeting.  Nikki’s company, Starquest, Inc., focuses on developing higher levels of performance in leaders and their organizations.  Nikki titled his talk to us “Becoming Mentally Prepared For Extraordinary Performance”.  And he taught us several different mental fitness skills.  So for three hours we worked out…without getting sweaty…because he was exercising our brains.

He started out saying that we all have a unique gift – all, meaning all of us, not just those of us in the room with him.  And, if we are a keen observer, we will be able to determine what that is in the other person.  Unfortunately, our unique gift is also our curse.  More on that in a minute.

Triggered State

An exercise Nikki took us through was to ask us to write down six things a person could do or say to push our buttons (cut us off in traffic, interrupt us when we are talking, make a comment that was offensive, not following through on a commitment, etc.).  Through a series of questions he was able to help us identify a word unique to each of us that triggered us into becoming ineffective.  A trigger he explained is “a stimulus that takes us out of a loving, joyous or creative state”.  And this renders us ineffective to make clear choices.  I know when I misplace something (like my car keys) I cannot function effectively until I have found the item.  Or if someone cuts me off in traffic.


If we are to be effective we need to get out of our triggered state quickly otherwise we carry this feeling around with us which increases our stress level.  And this is not healthy nor is it fair to the next person with whom we interact.  This is how Nikki suggests we do it.

1)   Acknowledge that you have been triggered and the feeling that goes with it.  Okay, the person who just cut me off just triggered me and I’m angry.

2)  Relate the trigger to your key word.  Mine is respect.  They have no respect for me or basic traffic courtesy.  They think they don’t need to follow the rules.  [By doing the “6 things” exercise above you may be able to determine a word that fits you.]

3)  Ask yourself “What is a new perspective I could have?”  The person cutting me off in traffic doesn’t know me so don’t take it personally!

4)  What is the best possible outcome to this situation?  What is my intention on how to deal with it?  They don’t know me so they didn’t do it intentionally.  Maybe they have an emergency and need to get somewhere quickly.

This was great learning for everyone in the room and something that all of us face every day when we may be triggered numerous times.  Acknowledging that and knowing how to get ourselves back to a creative state is very helpful.  And like Nikki says it is not something that comes naturally.  It is something that we have to practice and practice.

Consider Reading This

Paper Airplane: A Lesson for Flying Outside the Box by Michael McMillan.  All breakthroughs occur because instead of following the accepted rules, someone dares to created his or her own rules.  This story is a powerful reminder that thinking outside the box can be a risk, but the potential reward can be worth it.