Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"learn how to tame your stress response"/ "Why being deliberate is key to succeeding"

Sept. 14, 2016 "Learn how to tame your stress response": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Emotional Agility
By Susan David
(Avery, 274 pages, $32.50)

Emotional intelligence has been a big deal since the mid-1990s bestseller by Daniel Goleman reminded us of the importance of understanding and managing our emotions. Agility has been a buzzword in recent years in tech operations and, more broadly, strategy. Harvard Medical School psychologist and executive coach Susan David has combined those two separate concepts into a new notion, emotional agility, which she believes is the key to workplace and life success.

“Emotional agility is about loosening up, calming down, and living with more intention. It’s about choosing how you’ll respond to your emotional warning system,” she writes in her book Emotional Agility.

She observes that many people, most of the time, operate on emotional autopilot, reacting to situations without true awareness. Others realize they expend too much energy trying to constrain or suppress their emotions, which are treated she says “like unruly children and, at worst, as threats to their well-being.”

When she asks clients how long they have been trying to get in touch with, fix, or cope with their challenging emotions and the situations that prompt them, the answers can range from five to 20 years. Sometimes the answer is “ever since I was a little kid.” Clearly, many people haven’t developed much in the way of emotional intelligence.

The agility part of her approach deals with the thinking and behaviour processes – habits that can prevent you from flourishing. They keep you stuck, reacting in the same obstinate way to new or different situations. Perhaps since you were young you always say the wrong thing or fold when it’s time to fight for what you deserve. Or perhaps you default to certain rules of thumb that served you well in the past but aren’t serving you now, such as people can’t be trusted.

“A growing body of research shows that emotional rigidity – getting hooked by thoughts, feelings and behaviours that don’t serve us – is associated with a range of psychological ills, including depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, emotional agility – being flexible with your thoughts and feelings so you can respond optimally to everyday situations – is key to well-being and success,” she says.

Emotional agility is not about controlling your thoughts or forcing yourself to think more positively. It involves loosening up and calming down, being more intentional when emotions can trip you up. Throughout the book, she regularly comes back to a key concept Nazi death camp survivor Viktor Frankl advanced in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

Emotional agility involves opening up that space between how you feel and what you do about those feelings. You need not be an automaton. You can change what may seem like preordained patterns of response. “Emotionally agile people are dynamic. They demonstrate flexibility in dealing with our fast-changing, complex world. They are able to tolerate high levels of stress and to endure setbacks, while remaining engaged, open and receptive,” she says.

Life doesn’t become magically easy. They still experience feelings of anger and sadness. But they face those with curiosity, self-compassion and acceptance, rather than being derailed by them.

Work may seem coldly rational with spreadsheets and organizational charts but in fact she sees it as a stage on which emotional issues play out. Old stories about who we think we are hook us at critical moments, such as when we are pressured. “To advance in our careers, we need to update those narratives the same way we update our resumes. And just as we no longer list our summer jobs once we’re out of college, some stuff from way back simply needs to be left behind,” she advises.

Insecurity can be a hook. So can caring too much, leading us to step on co-workers’ toes. Groups can also get hooked, developing tunnel vision. In all cases, step back and let go. Stay true to your values. Move on with small, deliberate tweaks to your mindset, motivation and habits.

She lists signs you’re hooked at work: You can’t let go of an idea or being right, even when there is an obviously better answer; you stay silent when you know something is going wrong; you busy yourself with small tasks without considering the bigger picture; you volunteer for only the least difficult tasks; you make backhanded comments about co-workers or projects; and you rely on assumptions about colleagues.

To get past those and truly show up for work, you must make room for and label your thoughts and emotions. That will help you to see them as information rather than facts or directives.

The book is not a guidebook for regaining emotional balance and agility. But it does set out some key principles for understanding the power of emotions upon us and how to be more effective in life and at work.


Disruptive Marketing (Amacom, 234 pages, $35.50) by communications designer Geoffrey Colon shares diverse ideas from the digital world to expand your horizons and improve your brand.

The First Two Rules of Leadership (Wiley, 148 pages, $28) are don’t be stupid and don’t be a jerk, and consultant David Cottrell explores them in his new book.

Academics Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James, and Jean-Pierre Landau look at Europe’s great monetary endeavour and its difficulties in The Euro and the Battle of Ideas (Princeton University Press, 440 pages, $43.95).

My opinion: That was a good psychology article.

Nov. 18, 2016 "Why being deliberate is key to succeeding": Today I found this article by Chitra Anand in the Globe and Mail:

de·lib·er·ate > adjective >consciously and intentionally. > “a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict” > verb > engage in long and careful consideration.

I love the word, as an adjective and a verb. Any decision that you make in life – whether in your personal or professional life – should be with some amount of deliberation. I have spent my career in large corporations and innovation is something that companies struggle with; the problem is with maintaining their relevance in the marketplace. We are seeing it in all kinds of industries. With the rise of technology, the way we shop, eat, travel, and manage our finances are being presented with new business models and all of this has been done with deliberation. New start-ups have found gaps in the market, problems to solve, and a way to do things better. For the corporation to survive in this new marketplace, they need to adopt this kind of thinking; They need to nurture the talent from within that exemplify these kinds of behaviours.

In my career, I have never been a ‘yes’ person. I have always been curious about doing things differently, challenging current ways, researching, trying new things.

The business decisions that you make should be in the best interest of the project or organization that you work for. What ideas could drive high impact, move the needle rather than just going through the motions. I am not afraid to take risks, fail, learn and move on. The reality is that most large corporations are not set up for this kind of a learning environment as much as they may say they are.

I remember the words of the first president that I worked with at Microsoft. He said to me, “Here is my advice to you. Do something, don’t talk about changing things and go through the motions of the job, do something that has big impact.” Those words were great guiding principles. One of the dangers of working in a large corporation is that you can spend a year in a job and do just that – go through the motions, get caught up in meeting minutia and, before you know it, the year is up. I recently spoke at a conference in Cincinnati and one of the attendees conveyed just that. He was at Macy’s for five years and he felt like he did not accomplish anything meaningful.

To become deliberate in what you do requires elements of mindfulness and reflection, which will ultimately improve your performance. To be deliberate means the following things in large, complex organizations; its around how you are spending your time. Ask yourself the following questions:

How much time am I spending on e-mail, meetings and social media?

These three things are time killers. You are simply consuming your time with busy work. If you think that answering e-mails all day is work or by sitting in a meeting is work – it’s not. What you are creating and building is the work. I have made a deliberate effort to ensure that I deliver two-three tangible things in every work quarter. Ensure that there is tangible, impactful work that you either contribute to directly or that you lead.

How much time am I spending on modelling possibility?

This is where creative experimentation comes through. To breakthrough with innovation from within, you need to allow yourself time and space to solve problems by thinking through possibilities. I have dedicated my time to research how companies can make innovation more deliberate from within by embedding it into their culture daily. The question you should ultimately ask yourself is, ‘how much value am I creating?’

Are you willing to take risks?

Innovation requires being fearless, the ability to make mistakes, learn and move on. Any business that achieved results assumed risk. As children, a big part of the learning process is to make a mistake. Why, as adults and in corporations, do we lose the essence of learning?

Chitra Anand (@chitra_anand), formerly director of marketing at Telus and head of public relations at Microsoft Canada, is involved in the intrapreneurship movement. Intrapreneurs possess an entrepreneurial spirit, driving innovation, creative thinking, and new ideas.

jojo ba 2 days ago
Some very good and thought provoking points are made, one of the better articles I have seen in this column. Personally I have always thought of email as a time drain, half the senders can't convey their thought and half the recipients don't read the whole text. A phone call is much more effective, less time consuming and re-enforce relationships.

CYNIC11 3 days ago
A thought provoking interesting article. The G&M need more of such, other than simply repeating the popular comments of other journalists.


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