The other day, I packed up an old suitcase filled with some clothes to donate to a charity.

My dog looked a little sad as she watched me pack the suitcase.

As I walked out the door with the suitcase, she started howling.

She didn’t know I’d be back in an hour. Guess she thought I was going away on another trip.

It’s easy to make assumptions based on behaviors that seem familiar to us–and to jump to conclusions too quickly. Before you know it, you’ve talked yourself into a scenario that’s not really true.

One of the most important things you can do in your leadership role is to test your assumptions. Question your beliefs.

Why do you believe what you do about a situation or a person?
Why do you believe what you do about a problem or an opportunity?

We often “go negative” assuming the worst about a situation.

“I lost the business because I did something wrong.”
“The project failed because the team couldn’t get along.”

If you are someone who internalizes negativity too easily, learn to catch yourself when that happens. For example, you might reframe the statements above to:

“I lost the business because there’s a better piece of business out there to win.”
“The project failed because we have the opportunity to improve our teamwork.”

Learn to take better control of your thoughts. The higher your leadership level, the more important it is to be aware of what you’re thinking.

Belief is like a mental muscle that needs to be exercised. Practice holding the beliefs that serve you well.

Write them down or talk about them to help them stick. Over time, you’ll be able to internalize them.

Note what triggers you so you can manage your emotions more easily. (Any suitcase clearly triggers my dog.)

Some of my clients are triggered by a conversation, an experience or a specific person.

Triggers can be traps, but they are really signals directing us to pay attention to what’s going on inside.

Often things aren’t as bad as they seem. It’s up to you to find the meaning or belief that can help you move forward more easily.

A trigger is a teacher, if you learn from it.

Your Leadership Challenge: This week I challenge you to identify one trigger (person or experience) that affects you negatively.

Determine something specific you’ll do differently when you’re triggered.