It’s difficult to remain unaffected amidst the tidal wave of changes that have occurred in the last year. With change comes possible opportunity and growth; conversely, change can also bring uncertainty, discomfort, and anxiety. Why is it important for us to examine our emotions and our responses to change?

What does it take internally for us to succeed and thrive amidst chaos, cruelty, and complexity in our external environment?

“The way we navigate our inner world – our everyday thoughts, emotions, and self-stories – is the single most important determinant of our life success. It drives our actions, careers, relationships, happiness, health. Do we let our self-doubts, failings, shame, fear, or anger hold us back? Can we be determined, persevering toward key life goals, but just as importantly, have the insight and courage to recognize when these goals are not serving us, and adapt?” asks Dr. Susan David, Harvard Psychologist and Professor.

In our complex, fast changing environment, this ability to manage one’s thoughts and feelings is essential to business success.

One of my personal goals as a Leadership Development Professional is to help clients develop self-awareness necessary to approach their professional and personal lives in a mindful, values-driven and productive way – developing what David calls emotional agility.

The prevailing wisdom says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no place in the workplace. Leaders should project confidence and suppress negative emotions. “Leaders stumble not because they have undesirable thoughts and feelings – that’s inevitable – but because they get hooked by them,” David said.

Emotional agility enables us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. The process isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s about facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to ignite change in your life.

In retrospect many may look back on the positive outcomes of change. Others get stuck in a myriad of negative emotions that hinder forward motion. As you continue your journey, I challenge you to approach challenges with emotional agility: (1) recognize the patterns of negative thinking which may be hindering your success; (2) view your thoughts and feelings objectively; and (3) accept your positive and negative emotions, but don’t let them stifle your career.


  • Donna Oti, PhD

    Communication and Talent Development Professional

    Donna's career spans more than 20 years as a journalist, educator, and organizational development consultant. She began her career as a reporter and educator before embarking on a career in Strategic Communication, Leadership, and Organizational Development. She currently works as Adjunct Professor at Howard University, Department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communications and a Talent Development Professional serving U.S. Federal Government Customers.