KEEP CALM AND BE OUT OF COMFORT ZONE

Character from TV Show “Peaky Blinders”

If you’re not familiar Tommy Shelby is the mastermind behind the Peaky Binders gang and Empire. Before hand, I would like to say don’t be like Tommy. In every way he is traumatized violent and all sorts of anti-social in many ways but he does have two main traits that can have a huge impact in your life.

First of all perhaps the most noticeable thing about Tommy is that he rarely over reacts in situations of extreme pressure. Tommy wasn’t born cool as a cucumber as none of us are. He developed this trait through repeated exposure to life-threatening situations. First in the war and then over and repeatedly in the course of his rise as a gangster. The same principle applies in our lives if we want to remain calm in certain situations the most reliable way isn’t simply by focusing on keeping a straight face or a deadpan stare. In fact, the more you think about your facial expressions when you’re nervous the more likely you are to actually blush so even though people notice the unflinching face the best way to get there is through what’s called exposure therapy:

Essentially you put yourself into less challenging simulations of whatever difficult scenario you’re about to face.

So if you’re going to interview doing a mock interview with a friend or even touring the building that you’ll be interviewing in can go a long way to calming your nerves on the big day.

Tommy’s experience also shows us what happens if you expose yourself to overwhelming situations rather than gradations of slightly more challenging ones when overwhelmed. You can become traumatized and while you may retain total coolness and stressful moments, you will inevitably find destructive coping mechanisms to deal with what you haven’t faced. In the later seasons we see Tommy’s mental stability breakdown as suicide becomes more and more of an option. So as you’re building towards fearlessness don’t rush into fast. It can be counterproductive now. Outsmarting people requires more than just composure Tommy often has to persuade people that have every reason to hate him and he exhibits three powerful tools that regularly keep him in control. The first is his use of state breaking questions. Let’s make an example:

- You don’t want to hear. You always forget about our important dates! Today you even did not take the children from the school in time.

- Honey, by the way, today was so cold. Have you and children worn warm jackets?

- No, I haven’t worn, my jacket teared.

-Tomorrow we are going to buy a new one for you and children. The weather is going to be worse than today.

When we’re under pressure our natural response is to go with the flow and passively accept the conversational pace set by someone who’s in a position of power over us. However in doing so we surrender our power during that conversation which in a negotiation usually leads to an unfavorable deal this state. Breaking question is a seemingly out-of-place question that breaks the one-sided conversational flow and from there conversation is much easier to steer in a new direction, In this case, we use the weather to assert our power. Despite the fact that we are guilty.

When Tommy does have power, he doesn’t allow others to divert it away with their own state breaking questions. He simply continues down his original path rather than answering them. Let’s change previous example:

- You don’t want to hear. You always forget about our important dates! Today you even did not take the children from the school in time.

- Honey, by the way, today was so cold. Have you and children worn warm jackets?

- Teacher said that father didn’t contribute enough time and forces to the children’s lives. Do you think it is normal?

- The weather is going to be worse than today. We should think about children’s clothes now.

-Today you are going to do homework with your children. I will go and visit my friend and come in 2 hours.

It can be an incredibly persuasive tool especially when someone’s emotional state is preventing them from moving forward productively. For instance, if someone is feeling upset asking a random light-hearted question can snap their state for long enough for them to consider more empowering possibilities. In our line of examples, instead of complaining about doing homework with children can ask “Which subject will we prepare with children? Can you show me where you stopped with them?” It would be shocked a woman as she waited another reaction from husband. She gets rid of stress in a minute. Asking a seemingly irrelevant question gives you the opportunity to retake control of the situation and move it towards a more productive solution.

A simple question isn’t going to instantly put someone on your side. In fact other people can be counted on to continue to pursue their own agendas which is why we often see Tommy get what he wants by finding a way to align his needs with the other person’s. For instance Tommy tries to convince another faction to join him in a war against the Italians he doesn’t appeal to honor or to doing what’s right but to doing what’s good for Alfie Solomon — the head of gangsters. To do this effectively you cannot imagine that other people want the same things as you.

You must try to first see the world from their perspective. I know this may sound obvious but so few people follow this advice. Instead they offer others what they would want never getting anywhere, So before offering help you need to make sure you understand the other person’s world which is why Tommy comes to these meetings already understanding the position and temperament of the person that he’s going to be speaking. Come back to our situation:

- You don’t want to hear. You always forget about our important dates! Today you even did not take the children from the school in time.

- Honey, by the way, today was so cold. Have you and children worn warm jackets?

- Teacher said that father didn’t contribute enough time and forces to the children’s lives. Do you think it is normal?

- The weather is going to be worse than today. We should think about children’s clothes now.

- Today you are going to do homework with your children. I will go and visit my friend and come in 2 hours.

- Honey, I know you are exhausted and angry with me (understanding). You have all rights to do it (accepting). Tomorrow is Sunday, so now we are going to sleep (alternative decision) and on morning create an entertaining program of day off all together (concrete plan).

If after all of your research on someone you’re still unclear on what they want, you can always just ask them in the course of conversation. Much more effective way to start that relationship but be even beyond this particular scenario, the point is that one of the best ways to get what you want is to seriously consider how you can get other people what they want. It activates reciprocity and creates allies that can open up incredible opportunities.

Now this brings us to the next point when Tommy really needs something done. He doesn’t just solve someone’s problem he gives both the carrot and the stick which is a much stronger motivation when you’re trying to affect.

“If you need anything in this city just mention my name. Also in the envelope is a check for five hundred pound for your wife to buy a good tomb if you decide to betray me”. ©Tommy

Some people are motivated more by the prospect of gaining something others by the fear of losing something. At the same time, all of us are motivated when there’s a particular path that it’s wages both of those desires which is why Tommy makes sure to hit on both whenever he needs. This is a far superior persuasive strategy than simply commanding or threatening people and it’s incredibly helpful when you’re trying to inspire any group of people. So whether it’s in school or work when there’s a team of people that you’re trying to move towards a common goal or if it’s in business when you’re trying to explain the value of a product that you’re selling. Don’t just talk about what someone can gain if they follow your vision but instead on what they might miss out if they don’t now this takes us.

The last piece which is truly what makes Tommy Shelby so unique and probably why so many people love him it’s his ability to turn trash into resources like lemons into lemonade. In Tommy’s case he makes a bad situation better than if it had never happened. In the first place, for example, when there’s a failed assassination attempt on his brother’s life, he doesn’t just look at the bright side of things that his brother is alive. He uses that attempt to spread disinformation telling everyone that Arthur, his brother, is dead which buys him time to recuperate and then eventually surprise and kill that season’s big Baddie Lukitch.

Now this might seem like could only work in a scripted dramas but this strategy of turning trash into resources is how some of the most elegant and brilliant solutions are created in the real world. It can be a trash situation or it can be literal trash like in the case of boy and slot who is cleaning up huge clumps of trash in our oceans. Boyan did selling the massive amounts of plastic that he finds in the ocean to recycling plants cleaning up the ocean and building a profitable business in one fell swoop. The point is the bad things in your life may only appear bad in a particular context if you could put those things into a completely new and different context you can turn something that everyone else overlooked into a valuable resource.

So an extremely powerful question to ask when you’re frustrated or you wishes circumstance wasn’t the case is how can the thing that I least want become valuable towards another goal of mine. Now as we talked about part of the reason that Tommy can remain calm and confident enough to come up with the best solution to this question is that he suffered serious trauma in World War I but if you’re interested in remaining calm and confident, I don’t having to go through any World Wars.

I think that the fastest way to do so is come through small challenges every day. They must take us out of our comfort zone. That is how we can become stronger and more relaxed when we face difficulties or pressure in our life.

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