(PRWEB) July 20, 2006 -- In front of 28.8 billion World Cup Soccer
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viewers in 213 countries Zinedine Zidane, a world-wide role model, lost his self-control and head butted Marco Materazzi. This “amygdala hijack” demonstrated to the world how easy it is to “derail” in seconds if you can’t control your emotions, says psychologist and Emotional Intelligence expert Dr. Relly Nadler.
“ Zidane’s comments demonstrate the seriousness of his high profile hijack. ”
The “amygdala hijack” is a term coined in Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, his first book on the subject. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain, which regulates the fight or flight response. When threatened, it can respond irrationally. A rush of stress hormones floods the body before the prefrontal lobes (regulating executive function) can mediate this reaction.
Zidane’s surprising and aggressive response demonstrates the three signs of the “amygdala hijack”: strong emotional reaction, sudden onset, and regret for your actions when you reflect later.
Zidane apologized to the children for his act, but remained unrepentant to Materazzi and rationalized that Materazzi’s statements provoked him. Dr. Relly Nadler, a psychologist, executive coach and Emotional Intelligence training and tools expert, observes: “Zidane’s comments demonstrate the seriousness of his high profile hijack. His logic was suppressed by the powerful tunnel vision survival reaction of the amygdala. No one can make you do something against your better judgment, but the amygdala always can.”
Zidane rationalized later that he knew there were only minutes left in his last career game and Materazzi response demanded retaliation. He was not thinking logically at that time and his response characterizes what Dr. Nadler says psychologists call “cognitive dissonance” in explaining his behavior. In other words, there must have been a good reason to do something so stupid. Is that the only message the 28.8 billion viewers are left to ponder, replay and emulate on some level?
What was needed for Zidane to prevent this derailer was more emotional self awareness, accurate self-assessment and self control Those characteristics represent three of the 18-20 competencies of Emotional Intelligence (EI).
EI is essentially understanding and managing yourself and understanding and managing others. It has been demonstrated to account for 80-90% of the attributes of star performers - someone who consistently performs in the top 10%. Dr. Nadler, the author of the forthcoming Leaders’ Playbook states, “EI helps inoculate performers from derailing, where they can quickly fall off their hero pedestal. EI can be learned with a series of tools and training.”
Only time will tell to what extent the hijack and head butt tarnishes Zidane’s incredible career. He is not alone in highly visible “amygdala hijacks,” where careers are derailed and sunk with momentary emotional reactions.
The top five examples of “Amygdala hijacks” include:
1. Zidane’s head butt
2. Bill Clinton’s follies with Monica Lewinsky
3. Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear in their 1993 title boxing match
4. Enron’s executives numerous hijacks over their tenure
5. Howard Dean’s infamous scream during the 2004 primaries
Lack of impulse control is one of 18 key Derailers for executives, leaders and managers. “We all do these behaviors at some point, but the greater the frequency the more trouble you bring to yourself and your organization,” said Nadler.
To see if you or your employees are at risk for Derailing, you can take the Derailer DetectorTM for free at www.truenorthleadership.com
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Relly Nadler, Psy.D.