My phone has Joy, a character from Pixar's new movie Inside Out, on the cover. This has prompted surprising comments from the leaders I work with. Many (including those who do not have children) have shared how much they love the movie Inside Out as well as how applicable the movie is to how they manage their own emotions at work. This movie has now grossed $760.1M at the box office, and it has valuable lessons for executives and entrepreneurs:
1. Don’t let anyone see your disgust.
There are some people who you would love to play poker with, those who cannot hide their disappointment. How they behave in the boardroom is likely to reflect how they would perform at the poker table. I see disgust most frequently when leaders are in disagreement with each other. Rather than articulate their disagreement with their peers, they use tone and manner of speaking to give away what they really think and feel. They may as well add a teenage eye-roll at the end just to underline their level of disgust!
2. Don’t keep your sadness in a circle.
In the movie, the character Sadness is told to stand in a circle and not to leave, but her role becomes even more important as the movie progresses. It is time to bring this least talked about emotion to the front of our conversations. If you are sad about not getting that promotion, that your competition beat you to releasing a new product, or that the quality of your new service wasn’t as expected, say so. Rather than bottle up your sadness, own it: express it and ask for what you need next.
3. Let anger run the show.
When I was working at British department store retailer House of Fraser, our store manager paged me from the cosmetics department and shouted, “Valerie, get this girl out of my store NOW!” I couldn’t get him to explain any further details as he was so mad. It turned out he was angry because one of the sales team was chatting with friends and not being attentive to customers. He couldn’t even talk to her, so he called me to vent and deal with the situation. Research from UC Berkley suggests that expressing anger can lead to more successful negotiations in life and at work. Psychologist John Riskind created a useful speedometer that lets you categorize and deal with your anger. Just like it does in the movie, in life anger sometimes needs to run the show.
4. Don’t go the same way as Bing Bong.
Memories that are not regularly revisited fade, just like Bing Bong, the main character Riley’s imaginary childhood friend, which can cause sadness. When your company is growing fast and adding many new employees, it is easy to forget to slow down and remember your past successes and achievements. It is not enough to know you have been successful, you also need to know why you have been successful. By regularly reminding your team, your peers, and your investors of the memories you want to preserve will help you continue to grow your business.
5. Not everyone is as excited about change as you are.
Are you oblivious to how people around you are reacting to change--just like Riley's dad with a cell phone permanently stuck to his ear? Riley struggled with the family's move to San Francisco causing anger and disgust to take over, but her work-obsessed dad didn’t prioritize paying attention. Are you noticing the emotions of the members of your team?
6. Know your islands of importance.
Goofiness, honesty, family, hockey, and friendship were the islands in Riley's mind that defined her. When she failed at hockey tryouts, Hockey Island crumbled away. What are your islands of importance and how are you protecting them? Do you know what is important to your team and the importance emotional meaning?
Without my new Joy phone cover I would never have had the opportunity to have so many unprompted, passionate, and powerful conversations about how to harness your emotions. Perhaps it is time for a team outing to the movies so you too can get your emotions from your inside, out.
What inspired you from the Inside Out movie?