Leadership Nudge® 345 – The Motion in Emotion

April 7, 2021by Sandy Wilmer

The purpose of emotions is to cause a physical response. Think of emotion as “E – Motion,” where the “E” stands for “Evoke” – Evoke-Motion. The next time you’re kind of stewing on something, go do something physical. Evoke motion from your emotions.


I think we’ve forgotten that the purpose of emotions was to cause a physical response. We smell something disgusting and our physical response is don’t eat it. I like to think of emotions as “E – Motions.” They’re not things that we tame. They’re things that we listen to, and they evoke motion – “E – Motion.”  

For example, let’s say before a speech, I used to say I get nervous. Well, what’s going on? I might have shallower breathing, narrowing perspective, hypervigilance and maybe a queasiness in the pit of my stomach. And I labeled that “nervous” which didn’t really help me because it made me worried about forgetting my lines. But I can also label it excitement. “Oh, that’s, that’s me being excited.”  

Well, that’s a positive thing. That’s my body getting ready to go into this event where I want to be hyper focused on what I’m doing. I don’t want to be thinking about my IRA or any other things. That’s what my body’s trying to set me up for – a physical response. I might try just deeper breathing. I’m a kind of a pacer so I’m backstage, pacing back and forth. And that physical activity helps to mitigate what might otherwise end up being sort of a negative reinforcing loop in my head.  

The next time you’re kind of stewing on something, remember that the original purpose of those emotions was to generate something physical. And I think going for a walk is almost always a good answer. It’s physical, it’s non-threatening. It’s easy. We can almost always do it.  

So when all of these things go on in your head, go do something physical. Evoke motion from your emotions.  

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge. 

Sandy Wilmer

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