red-button-med-1.jpgFor a long time, I tried to keep my cool by attempting to teach everyone around me not to push my buttons. Avoid my hot spots, please? Do it my way, please? This may work reasonably well at the office if you’re the CEO (don’t want to upset the boss, do we?), and if you manage to always stay in Four Seasons hotels and travel first class. But it does not work too well with children, your spouse, or in most of the real world. Nor, it turns out, is having a controlling mindset much help in finding true peace of mind.

So after a while (and a lot of stress; either I was a lousy teacher or the world wasn’t interested), I gave up trying to teach the world (or at least that part of it in the vicinity I frequented) to not push my hot buttons.

New strategy?

  1. Take control of my hot buttons
  2. Eliminate hardwiring (the automatic, unthinking, unmodulated, often disproportionate response) of same

I decided it would be a lot easier to simply ELIMINATE my hot buttons. Duh! I could try to control 4 or 5 billion people, or I could learn how to control myself. Not by stifling my temper or holding it all in, but by eliminating the wiring to the hot buttons. Somehow I had “hardwired in” strong emotional responses to certain stimuli.

I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, as someone who regularly accesses his higher self (ethical/moral/spiritual) in order to achieve impluse control and not give into temptation. I do not like it when I observe myself not living up to this self image, and I use this desire for consistancy to motivate change in my behavior.

I started writing this particular blog over a week ago and I have had the humbling experience of tripping over my personal hot buttons numerous times since I began. My score on those pop quizzes that life administered to me is nothing to write home about.

As is my wont after stumbling, I picked myself up, dusted off, took another sighting on my north star, re-dedicated myself to my purpose, and resolutely continued my journey. Hot buttons, watch out! Your days are numbered.

* “Hot buttons are those irritations and annoyances that can provoke you into conflict. They are the situations or characteristics in others that aggravate and frustrate you, perhaps to the point where, despite knowing better, you instigate a conflict. Interactions with button pushers can leave you feeling demoralized, unmotivated, powerless, anxious, frightened, and angry (possibly enough to resort to sabotage or other destructive acts). In the workplace, hot buttons can lead you to be less productive, efficient, organized, and creative; they also can negatively affect your life outside of work as well as your physical and emotional well-being.”
  – Leadership Development Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida

Hot button: “Word or issue that ignites anger, fear, enthusiasm, or other passionate response.”
  – “Safire’s New Political Dictionary” by William Safire