Episode 72: Ctrl Alt Delete: Learning Cognitive Decluttering to Unlock Your Full Potential

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Renie Cavallari03/07/2024

In a recent episode of the #shifthappens podcast, we caught up with Renie Cavallari, author of HEADTRASH: Dumping Toxic Habits and Clearing Emotional Clutter, about strategies for overcoming negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. Renie shared incredibly valuable insights on how we can decrease emotional stress, gain clarity, and take productive action to unlock our full potential. Here are six key takeaways from our empowering conversation:

Decrease Emotional Stress to Gain Clarity

We all have head trash - those negative voices that undermine us and suck our energy. The key is learning how to manage it so it doesn't take over. Renie explained that success comes from navigating the hardest parts, which is our head trash. She discussed how there are two sides of our emotional brain - the connected side and the disconnected side. The disconnected side is where fear, worry, anxiety and head trash lives. In order to gain clarity and be productive, we need to decrease our emotional stress and shift to the connected side where happiness and joy reside.

Renie emphasized that leaders should strive to decrease employees' emotional stress rather than eliminate emotion altogether. Where there is emotion, there is engagement. By helping people reduce emotional stress, leaders allow employees to gain the clarity needed to communicate effectively and take productive action. She used the analogy of an arrow pointing down to represent decreasing emotional stress, leading to increased clarity, and finally upward momentum into productivity.

Ask Empowering Questions

One of the best ways to decrease emotional stress is by asking powerful, engaging questions. Renie explained, "The power of the shift is in the quality of the question." Questions that begin with "why" often increase stress by placing blame. Instead, she suggests asking "What's the first thing you can do to shift this situation?" This prompts the person to engage productively.

Renie always starts coaching conversations by exploring mindset. She asks insightful questions like, "How are you feeling as you look at the situation? What matters most right now? What do you think is the first step forward?" Guiding employees through self-discovery is far more effective than telling them what to do. Quality questions stimulate productive thought and decrease emotional stress so clarity can emerge through dialogue.

Connect to Build Trust

In today's digital work environment, Renie emphasized that leaders need to be more intentional about connecting on a human level to build trust and rapport. Actions like taking someone to lunch or acknowledging them on a personal level go a long way. Vulnerability also fosters deeper bonds - we relate more to each other's struggles than success stories. Intentionally finding ways to connect, even virtually, allows for better communication and collaboration.

Lead with Compassion

Renie encouraged cultivating compassion as a core leadership quality. We have to look at everyone as a leader of their own domain, whether at work, home, or in the community. Leading with compassion enables you to meet people where they are and shrink disconnects. She reminded us that "where there is compassion, we can't go wrong."

Develop a Coaching Mindset

Renie differentiates between a manager and a coach. Managers focus on people, process and product. Coaches develop people to their potential. When an employee is underperforming, a quality coach explores mindset first by asking how the person feels about the situation. A coach mindset centers on asking empowering questions, not providing the answers. This enables the employee to gain clarity and commit emotionally to positive change.

Start from Gratitude

Renie shared a powerful daily practice that helps shift into the connected side of your emotional brain. Each morning, ask yourself:

  • What is my word of the day? (Set an intention)
  • What head trash do I need to dump from yesterday? (Acknowledge it)
  • What did I accomplish yesterday? (Reflect on productivity)
  • What is most important today? (Focus)
  • What am I grateful for? (Shift perspective)

Taking just 5 minutes for this simple ritual helps start your day from a positive mindset. Renie emphasized that consistently working from the connected side makes you a better leader, partner, and human being.

Renie Cavallari provided so many impactful insights and strategies in our conversation that can transform both our personal and professional lives. Be sure to check out her book HEADTRASH as well as the other resources on her website poweredbyrenie.com.

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