Your development as a leader is full of ups and downs. You are probably aware that the development process is full of productive, easy sailing days precious and those you can barely make it through. During the hills and valleys of your development, some of your challenges can come from triggers. In this case, a “trigger” refers to a person or event that can cause you to flashback to the days before your development started, much like when your adult child acts as they did during their teenage years.

Triggers are one of the most common obstacles that can slow down your development. To continue on your development path, you need to grip your triggers; or recognize them for a start. Failing here, your people will rarely believe you are trying to grow.

Triggers often vary in severity from an intrusive thought to an overwhelming need to violate all the rules you have set for yourself and how you manage people. In most cases, you will run across both internal and external triggers.

Internal triggers can come from unexpected emotions, thoughts, or memories of past problems. These are all inside; most of them revolve around some part of being in control and avoiding past issues. Remember, you are probably new at looking at things this way, and you will run into doubts, anxiety, and the desire to return to the ‘old way’ of doing things.

External triggers refer to material things outside of yourself and can cause internal “triggers” as well. They can be things like:

  • Sounds
  • People
  • Places
  • Seasons
  • Trauma
  • Events

In short, you are reacting in the moment to a memory of something that happened in your past. When triggered in this way, you see things as black and white, either-or. All that precious perspective and skill in managing performance you have developed goes right out the window. Suddenly you change the spirit in which you act, and your people see it often before you do. They see the bad weather you have just brought to the day.

Dealing with triggers is about being vigilant in identifying what is triggering you and planning how to cope with each one. A few ways to deal with triggers as a leader as they come up:

  • Be present and notice where you are
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Take a break, go for a walk, or walk away for now
  • Meditate
  • Help someone

Remember that your trigger isn’t permanent.

It is temporary and will go away, so don’t be impulsive.