The #1 Ability You Need To Elevate Your Life In 2023

the #1 ability you need to elevate your life in 2023 rita hyland playing full out

Listen to the full podcast episode to learn what self-aware, high-performers understand and do to raise their performance and satisfaction in life and why it’s the #1 ability you need to develop this year.

Sometimes when we want to get to elevate an area of our lives, we believe we need to move faster and work harder.  As a result of the stress, we lose our focus and any hope of executing our best ideas, work, and creativity.   

We’re continuing our 3-part series that will teach you just what you need to do your most satisfying work and set yourself up for the life you really want. In Part 1, Get Your Great Goal Down, we talked about overcoming the #1 mistake high achievers make when setting goals and how to overcome it.  

Today, I want to show you the #1 ability you most need to hone your focus so that you make decisions from your highest level state of being instead of from the rampant stressed-out level and pace that too many are seeing as ‘normal.’

Let’s start with a story about a man named John

John, a respected leader in his field of work, came to work with me with the goal of managing the increasing stress levels and pace of his life. He’d been feeling overextended at work and absolutely exhausted from the stress and pace of his life. He noticed he was more irritable and anxious than he used to be. 

He didn’t feel there was ever any time for what he really wanted: freedom to focus his time and energy on his priorities. 

John and I have worked together for a few months and recently had a conversation that was notably different than prior ones. This one was about his recent experience when his teenage daughter came home sick after drinking at a party. 

At the time, John’s wife was out of town and it was just him and the kids.  He was unsure of how to respond to his daughter and noticed that he was both worried and angry. He noticed his stress dropping and rising as he watched his daughter. He also noticed his immediate pull to react impulsively.  

Where he typically would react by reprimanding his daughter, by raising his voice to command attention, he instead paused and observed.

At that moment, he stood next to his daughter at the toilet and searched Google for an answer. In his search, he clicked a link that said, “Stay calm. Your child is in a vulnerable state.” These words were just enough to allow him to recall the work we’d done together.. 

He’d recently gotten feedback from his team that he was impatient, intimidating, and not listening well. This was holding him back, it was holding his team back from fully trusting him, and holding everyone back from achieving as much as they could together. He knew this same reactivity had impacted his personal life too. The relationship between himself and his daughter had deteriorated too. 

Stress steals our focus. When this happens, we are no longer in control of our lives.

We start living in survival mode (flying in late to meetings, being annoyed at colleagues who aren’t doing things the way we do them, being hard on ourselves, yelling at our kids, and more) as our normal way of being. So, we race harder. We move faster until we’re further stressed out. Simultaneously, the goals and commitments we’d love to prioritize have no way of being executed.

The 1 thing that’s robbing us of the amazing capacity we have to get our lives back is our ability to move fluidly between the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).

Think of your SNS as your “Survival Mode” and your PNS as your “Peaceful State” and both generate their own types of emotions.

Survival Mode emotions include:

  • stress
  • imbalance
  • breakdowns
  • contraction
  • fears
  • struggle
  • frustration

Peaceful State emotions include:

  • expansion
  • health
  • order
  • trust
  • repair
  • love

Each of us is familiar with Survival Mode. It’s an ability we’ve been gifted with to protect us in the presence of danger. It alerts us to a threat and powers us to escape. This was especially useful during caveman days when we needed this stress response to escape animals seeking to hunt us. But in modern days, we get these same triggers when we’re stuck in traffic or we’re late for a meeting. Unlike animals and our caveman ancestors, we don’t come out of these stressful states as easily. 

We don’t realize when we are leading our lives from triggered, stressed-out states. As a result, it prevents us from going after our most desired goals and priorities. 

In order to begin allowing yourself to fluidly transition between your SNS and PNS, I want to challenge you for the next week to be aware when you are operating in your SNS and then recognize any thought, behavior, or emotion you’re holding that is unloving to yourself. This is going to be the beginning of a detox that will liberate you, your body, and your emotional addiction to whatever it is that you worry about. 

What this exercise will do is begin to impede the signals of survival emotions from conditioning you any further. This will help you begin to tune those out which will free up energy that you can then use for something more beneficial. 

When you do this repeatedly, you will begin leading from your parasympathetic nervous system  (PNS) instead of your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Think survival mode. 

Remember, you are not hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. You are not hardwired to be riddled with stress on a daily basis.  And nothing profound was ever created in survival mode. 

Your ability to fluidly shift from your SNS to your PNS will be the #1 ability to elevate your life this year to create your highest levels of performance and satisfaction.  When you do it you will gain a significant advantage in business and life. 

In this episode I share:

  • The #1 ability you need to develop to elevate your performance
  • The most important thing you will do to hone your focus this year
  • A personal story exhibiting this ability in action and how it can play out and create new, ideal relationships and performance

Resources and related episodes:


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About Rita Hyland

With over 20 years of experience as an executive and leadership coach, Rita helps leaders — emerging and established — excel in corporate and entrepreneurial environments.

Rita believes if leaders were more clear about how transformation really works and more intentional about creating what they want, their impact, success, and influence in the world would be unstoppable.

Through her coaching programs, private coaching, and masterminds, Rita shows leaders how to win consistently and create the impact and legacy they desire.

Central to Rita’s work is the understanding that you will never outperform your current programming, no matter how strong your willpower.

When you learn to use Rita’s proprietary Neuroleadership Growth Code, a technology that uses the best of neuroscience and transformational psychology to hit the brain’s buttons for change, YOU become both the solution and the strategy.

Her mission is to end talented, hard-working, and self-aware leaders spending another day stuck in self-doubt or confusion and not contributing their brilliant work and talent the world so desperately needs.

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