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“A no-nonsense approach to building your business through relationships.”

~ Jane Applegate, syndicated Los Angeles Times columnist

Make Calm Your “Default Setting”

December 13th, 2010 by Bob Burg

Default Setting (computer science): A particular setting or value for a variable that is assigned automatically by an operating system and remains in effect unless canceled or overridden by the operator: (Example: Susan changed the default for the font in the word processing program.)

No, I wouldn’t have known that myself. Had to look it up on Dictionary.com. 🙂

Your “default setting” is your natural response to a certain stimulus.

When an uncomfortable situation occurs, what is your default setting? Do you get uptight? Panicky? Do you get Angry? Nervous? Hyper? Do you yell? Act forceful? Do you act unconsciously? Or, do you remain calm? Are you in personal control? Do you rationally assess the situation? Do you slow down in order to make sure you’re taking everything into consideration?

Your default setting to pressure situations is directly proportional to your ability to problem-solve, to live in the solution and to lead (whether a team, business, charity, family, etc.).

Good news: As operator of your own system, you can override your natural default setting. And, you can help others do the same.

An excellent example of this is my friend, Lisa Wilber, a top Avon Consultant (#4 money-earner in the country) and owner of The Winner in You. She received a panicky phone call from one of her consultants who had a “catastrophic problem.” As indicated by the quotation marks, the problem wasn’t catastrophic at all. It was inconvenient; not catastrophic. The consultant’s default setting was on panic so when she called she was upset and agitated.

Fortunately, Lisa’s default setting is on calmness and serenity so she simply walked her through the situation and, together, they came up with a solution. That was that.

Is it always easy to handle what life throws at us? Of course not. However, generally speaking, any potential problems and challenges – whether with other people or with situations themselves – will be easier to deal with, figure out and move past successfully when approached calmly.

The question is, “How does one change their default setting from anxious, uptight and panicky to calm and serene?”

We’ll look at six simple steps in the next post.

12 Responses to “Make Calm Your “Default Setting””
  1. Jim Everett said at 8:15 am on

    Bob, this is a great baseline for an important topic! I’m looking forward to your six simple steps in the next post. They sound like valuable steps to gaining personal mastery.

  2. If I had to choose a ‘favorite’ post of yours, Bob, this would be it (at least for this month). Stress is never ‘out there’. It is always our subconscious programming responding to the event, person, condition. I’m sharing 🙂

  3. Jen Brentano said at 9:07 am on

    Hey Bob,

    So true. Love the foundation that you are laying here and excited about what’s to come. I’ve been paying more and more attention to this because my ‘default setting’ is different depending on who I am interacting with. Different aspects and relationships in my life mean different defaults. Some I am thrilled with, others, not so much.

    Thanks for opening this discussion.


  4. Bob-Thank you for this post.
    I am favoriting it for future consumption.
    Again, your writing reminds me of a contemporary version of the most ancient “set your own default to calm” teachers – Patanjali –
    You always manage to make a bridge from the shores of the super-subtle inner realms (where these psychological earthquakes, rumblings, firestorms of anxiety, dread, paralyzing fear actually happen) – over to the ground on which we must take our daily stand –
    This post says essential things to all of us.
    “Can’t wait” to re-read it later so I can post a less jumbled comment.
    Have a good day. (& the great thing about wishing you that is, I know you will.

  5. Amy Wells said at 10:24 am on

    I’ve learned to emotionally stepback when I’m in the “splash zone” of someones rage. By doing so, it’s easy to look at the reality of the situation, rather than get caught up in the hightened emotion. (this took practice, but now It’s automatic) Ive gotten pretty good at helping friends reframe situations that they’ve gotten “caught up” in too. It’s so cool.

    I can’t wait to learn your six step process too.

  6. Hi Bob,
    Your post made me laugh, because my own mother, though I loved her dearly, was a person for whom EVERYTHING was a crisis! The smallest detail that went wrong was greeted with at least irritation, if not resentment and anger. A default setting like that gets trained into a child pretty strongly, and I have spent many years intentionally changing that setting.

    Something that has occured to me recently is this: at least at first glance, it seems to me that all anxiety is based in narcissism. “How will this affect ME?” When I stop fussing about myself and focus on giving, the anxiety goes away. (Oops! I hope I haven’t revealed one of your six steps too soon! 🙂 )

  7. Geneva said at 12:13 pm on

    Thank you Bob for beginning this. I am not the Drama Queen in any form & when someone sees me upset, they are past the point of their meltdown, anxiety, crisis, etc. While I do possess a large portion of a Sanguine personality, I don’t get caught up in the emotional roller coaster rides. Being a critical care nurse may have helped me in this matter. We have to shelve emotions, make split second, life or death decisions, that not only took care of the immediate time frame, but how it would affect the next minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc.

    I love the part of Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits, where he discusses the urgent vs important. This helped me in the business world & how to soothe the others I work with.

    I took a 13 wk. course on Discovering Your Purpose when I started attending my current church. We had to define our spiritual gifts & mesh them with our passion in order to determine our place serving the body of Christ. I was kinda upset that I scored lower than I expected in the “Mercy” area. Then I realized…..when someone explains their problems, I think past them toward the solutions. I listen & without getting emotionally train wrecked, I attempt to point them in the right direction. I can show sympathy / empathy without the frazzle-dazzle!

    Emotional Intelligence is a huge factor. I end with one of my fav discoveries. “In between stimulus & response is choice”-Viktor Frankl

    I appreciate you!

  8. Bob Burg said at 8:11 am on

    As usual, the feedback from all of you each contained great lessons from which I know I learned and hope other readers did, as well. Thank you so much for sharing with us!!

  9. […] Make Calm Your Default Setting: Bob Burg teaches an important lesson. Some hospitals don’t just ask you if your pain is 1 through 10 with 10 being unbearable. They show you a picture with 10 faces illustrating pain from a touch to monstrous. What may be a catastrophe for one person is an annoyance to another. […]

  10. […] a recent article and a video we looked at the concept of Default Settings; our natural responses or reactions to […]

  11. […] a previous post we discussed – what I call – Default Settings, the automatic response/reaction mode people go into based on certain stimuli. Some people panic; […]

  12. […] do you look for where you agree? Or, are you neutral; actively considering all sides? Or, do you default to […]

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