Your most important job today is not cutting costs. Or managing cash. Or caring for your people. Or retaining customers. Or scenario planning for an uncertain future. 

Those are all very important jobs. They are not most important. 

Your most important job is to manage yourself. That means you must fortify your brain against being hijacked, rendered useless and paralyzed by your reaction to the events around you. 

Like it or not, this means you will have to develop expertise in noticing emotions, starting with your own. That’s because emotions are the signals that your brain is getting hijacked. Ignore them and suppress them at your peril. Recognize them and you can disarm them. 

If you’re as squeamish about emotions as I am, this will not be welcome news. Luckily, I’ve written a 350-word crash course elsewhere describing five primary feelings and even providing a cheat sheet for naming them. Study it. Then pick one feeling word that describes your emotional state right now. For bonus points, share that feeling word with a trusted colleague. (Yes, transparency with trusted colleagues further fortifies your brain against hijack.)

Your most important job is to manage you. We need you as fully functional as possible to face our swiftly changing circumstances. Start by naming and owning your emotional reaction to today’s events. 

Awareness is the beginning of any productive action.