Emotions Clouding Your Judgement? Use the SHIFT Technique to Quickly Restore A Positive Mindset

Great business results don’t depend on how smart, assertive, well-compensated, or experienced you are. What drives great business results, is whether or not you’re in a positive emotional state when you are working, according to Alan Watkins

Your life as an extraordinary leader is interwoven with high-stakes business decisions that are stressful, but being in a positive emotional state will improve your business outcomes!

Sadly, not enough leaders know how to emotionally self-regulate quickly. They tend to bottle it all up until the business day is over and then go let off steam. There are lots of tools to change your mood - alcohol, acting out, or complaining to a friend have all worked for me at some time, but none of them can be done in the heat of the moment.

Inspired by Alans' research into How to be Brilliant Every Day, I recommend his technique called SHIFT, to quickly change negative emotions into a positive emotional state. It's worked on Olympic swimmers after all!

In swimming, as in business, it's all about the speed with which you shift that makes this technique so powerful. Unlike other forms of self-regulation, your heart energy is always positive and always with you. If you can tap into it, you can SHIFT. Here's how to do it.


  • When you feel your frustration and emotions rising, stop for a moment.


  • Direct your attention to the center of your chest.

  • Breathe in through your nose.

  • Follow the breath down into your heart.

  • Notice your heart expand as you breathe in for a count of seven, and contract as you breathe out for a count of seven.

  • Do this three times.


  • Think of a peak moment in your life when you felt amazing.

  • Who were you with?

  • What were you doing?

  • What was the impact you were having?

  • If it's easier, think of a piece of music that stirs your emotions, or a scene from a movie, or connecting to someone or something you love.


  • Let the memory feel really good inside your body.

  • Keep breathing in this emotional warmth and feel fully into the new state of being you have created.


  • From this happy and positive emotional state, turn your brain back on.

  • Your rational mind will come back into balance as your emotions shift from negative to positive and you regain control over your response to the situation and those around you.

Next time you feel stressed, sad or overwhelmed, try the SHIFT technique. Let me know how it goes and if you like it by leaving a comment below.