Russell Westbrook is poetry in motion, de-facto team leader of the OKC Thunder NBA franchise, NBA Most Valuable Player for 2017, and a pleasure to watch. In action, he’s a blur all over the court, scoring, passing, guiding his team in lightening-paced action.
But all that frenzy goes away when he’s been fouled.
Stepping up to the free throw line he does something that looks more akin to Yoga than hoops. He pauses, stands tall, throws his shoulders back, inhales deeply through his nose and choreographs all of this by holding the ball in one hand and palm up sweeping the other hand down and away from his body.
What’s up with this?
Consciously or subconsciously, Westbrook is exercising Emotional Intelligence.
The part of his brain he uses to navigate in and around his opponents at blazing speed is instinct, guided by muscle memory, and hours upon hours of practice. He has drilled this to the point that he could do it in his sleep. However, when he steps up to the free-throw line he shifts to a part of his brain that requires calm precision. He puts on the brakes. His pause is a focused understanding that he must center himself in order to gain the control he needs to make the shot. The sweeping motion of the hand allows him to visualize his exhaling and expel his excess energy. Standing tall creates more space for deep breathing, which is required to oxygenate the blood. This posture actually increases confidence and testosterone (as if he needed any more already). All of this is emotional literacy. He understands he is “jazzed”, and all that energy will cause him to shoot quickly and recklessly— unless he takes charge and intentionally slows himself down.
The emotionally intelligent leader will be more effective by taking a page out of Westbrook’s play book.
Take the time to slow down, calm down, and calculate your actions in order to get the very best outcome. A wise leader understands the constant pace of managing people and projects can create pressure that will tend to rush a decision.
Taking time to get collected doesn’t require hours or minutes. As you can see from Russell Westbrook, surrounded by thousands of fans, a team of competitors breathing down his neck, and in the lens of national media, He takes just seconds to switch gears, calm himself down, and take the winning shot.
Because emotional literacy means success in any arena.
Tim Hast and the Team at Encore Life Skills look forward to hearing from you. firstname.lastname@example.org