You lose your cool, you lose your case… every time. When I was young attorney I was asked by one of my law firm partners to argue a motion in federal court. I was excited to deepen my experience in federal court and it made me feel valued that one of the senior partners trusted me to handle the hearing. Then, I looked at the file… and I wasn’t so excited any longer. The case was a loser. I had weak witnesses, poor facts, and a federal statute wasn’t on my side. To top everything off, opposing counsel was a seasoned, well-respected trial attorney. So I prepared the best I could and went off to take a beating.
At the hearing while opposing counsel was making his argument, I made an appropriate objection that was sustained. Then an interesting thing happened. Opposing counsel got frustrated and very angry. He lost his cool. The judge was clearly not pleased at opposing counsel’s behavior. When the arguments concluded to my surprise she ruled in my favor! She commented to opposing counsel and myself the following words: you lose your cool… you lose your case… every time.
This is one of the best life lessons I have ever learned. Whether it is in a court of law, the courtroom of the business world or the general court of life, if you lose your cool… you lose your case, every time.
Sun Tzu explained in the Art of War: “Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:–this is the art of retaining self-possession.” Here are some principles to help you stay cool and retain your power in heated situations:
- Stay in the present moment
- Observe your feelings
- Do not become your feelings
- Be aware of your reactions
- Do not take on others’ feelings
- Listen to others
- Listen to yourself
- Ask yourself, “How should I handle this?”
- Ask yourself, “Should I react at all?”
Just being aware of your emotional state is usually sufficient to controlling it. One’s ability to stay calm, cool and collected in the face of challenge and stress is a key to succeeding.