By Dr. Travis Bradberry | Coauthor Emotional Intelligence 2.0 & President at TalentSmart

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe they can make things happen and those who believe things happen to them.

The first group are convinced that the outcome of their lives and careers is more or less in their own hands, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

The second group take more of a Forrest Gump approach—they sit around and wait for the bus to take them somewhere.

University of Florida psychologist Tim Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that people who feel that they control the events in their lives (more than the events control them) and are confident in their abilities end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance.

In Judge’s studies, these individuals—we’ll call them “the Empowered”—were found to do the following:

  1. Sell more than other employees do
  2. Give better customer service
  3. Adjust better to new assignments
  4. Take home an average of 50 to 150% more in annual income

In Good Times And Bad

Of course, when good times are rolling, nearly all of us believe we have the world by the tail. What makes the Empowered in Tim Judge’s studies special—whether they work the shop floor or in the C-suite—is that they don’t get overwhelmed when the going gets tough.

Just like you, the Empowered feel intense stress and anxiety when hard times strike, but they use this anxiety differently. Since the Empowered believe that they have control over the outcomes in their lives, their anxiety fuels passion instead of pity, drive in lieu of despair, and tenacity over trepidation.

Whether the Empowered find themselves presiding over a division with tanking revenues, on the receiving end of a scathing performance review, or staring yet another job-hunting rejection in the face, they refuse to wave the white flag. They redouble their efforts.

Here’s How It Works

The empowered outperform everyone else because the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

Anxiety is an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are hard-wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel some level of anxiety (also called stress). In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of anxiety.

The trick is to manage your stress/anxiety and keep it within optimal levels in order to achieve top performance.

We all know that living under stressful conditions has serious physical and emotional consequences. So why do we have so much trouble taking action to reduce our stress levels and improve our lives? Researchers at Yale have the answer. They found that intense stress actually reduces the volume of gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control.

As you lose self-control, you lose your ability to cope with stress. It becomes harder for you to keep yourself out of stressful situations, and you’re more likely to create them for yourself (such as by overreacting to people). The Yale research shows us why so many people get sucked into progressive rounds of greater and greater stress until they completely burn out (or worse).

Dwindling self-control is particularly scary when you consider that stress affects physiological functions in the brain, contributing to chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. And stress doesn’t stop there—it’s linked to depression, obesity, and decreased cognitive performance.

Here’s How You Do It

If you don’t have the tools in place to keep your anxiety in check when it comes on strong, you’ll never realize your full potential.

You can get better at managing the anxiety you inevitably feel when facing difficult and uncertain situations. You just need to follow the steps that successful and empowered people take to keep their anxiety from taking over.

The key thing to understand before getting started is that you are indeed facing uncertainty—the outcome of your future has not been decided. It’s up to you to develop the beliefs and mental toughness that will make you one of the Empowered.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE FOR Tips on how to keep your anxiety in check!

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