The Emotion Engine: The Emotion Halo (Email 4)

Note: This is an archive of an email from the release series of The Emotion Engine (Early Adopter Edition).

Happy Friday!

Previous emails in the series:

1. Tue, (Mar 31, 2020) — TEE: KISS (Email 1)

2. Wed, (Apr 1, 2020) — TEE: How should I start? (Email 2)

3. Thu, (Apr 2, 2020) — TEE: Structure + Tip (Email 3)

On Monday the doors open for enrollment to The Emotion Engine…

… but I still have a few ideas I want to share with you, whether you choose to enroll in TEE or not. These ideas are universal, meaning: they will help you to become a better thinker (leader) regardless.

An example of the Emotion Halo (core understanding)

I have distilled the main idea of The Emotion Engine into a simulation which serves as its intellectual core. I call it the Emotion Halo.

This serves for you to fully grasp the ecological and systemic nature of emotions and its consequences.

I'll start by showing you the core model that underpins this. I call it the Action Chain. This is actually the cornerstone of everything I do at dailyNLP. It's the way I coach, it's the way I develop training programs and it's the way I live.

It looks like this:

The Action Chain

This simply means the following: your state drives your action; your action drives your result. Your result, in turn, affects your state.

If you work in a closed model, without contact with the outside world, this can be pretty stable.

However, the instant you introduce external events and the environment into the model, you radically destabilize the equation. External events and the environment directly affect your state — like this:

Action Chain with External Events

Furthermore, the result you produce generally affects your environment, like this:

This feedback loop is very important, because it demonstrates a critical truth of our emotional dynamics: results have a double effect on state. As you can attest, they directly impact state. They also impact our environment, which in turn impacts state. As such, results have a double-whammy effect on state, which cascades down to action and then to results.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this.

Let's say that Jeremy receives some bad news while he's at work (external event). He becomes anxious, irritable and overwhelmed (state). From that state, he mistreats three key team members at work that day (action). One of them tells him his conduct his unacceptable and that he will be reported to HR (result). Immediately, Jeremy feels regret and sad because of what happened (state). During the following days, the team's morale is low (environment). Jeremy feels frustrated by this (state) and worries that the team's performance will suffer (action) and that they might not be able to meet an important deadline (result).

And on and on goes the downward spiral...

To demonstrate this model in action, I used loopy (created by Nicky Case), which is a systems modeling simulator.

Notice that, in the starting instance of the simulation, the environment is full, state is full, actions are at 100% and so are results.

To see non-arithmetic cause-and-effect in action, mouse over the "bad event" icon at the top of the model and click the "DOWN" arrow once.

Now watch.

You’ll see the cause-and-effect loop playing out. A bad event negative affects state, which negatively affects action, which negatively affects results, which retroactively negatively affects state and environment.

Allow the simulation to run for a few seconds. You will see state, action and result get depleted very rapidly.

Notice how you begin with just a single arrow — or stimulus — and, as the simulation evolves, it multiplies into several arrows. This is incredibly important to take into account. It explains HOW our life can spiral down very quickly if we don't take serious corrective action immediately.

Secondly, it's important to note that this simulates a purely reactive model, one in which we react emotionally in response to our environment. This shows the danger of surrendering to the environment and not managing our emotions, because of how vulnerable we are to the double impact of results.

Now, let's add another component to our model: emotional drivers. These are the levers by which our state is affected. And we'll also add interventions, which enable us to move our drivers.

Start the simulation by click the "DOWN" arrow on the "bad event" icon on the top right a bad event. Let it run for a few seconds and watch state deplete. Then, perform a few interventions by clicking on the "UP" arrow of the "interventions" icon. Count how many times you click and pay attention to whether the "state" icon replenishes or not.

(If you want to play with a larger model, you can access it right here.)

Experiment with the following:

1. Trigger the bad event and allow the simulation to run until you have at least 10 negative process flows running on screen. Then, start performing interventions. Count how many interventions are necessary to replenish state right away. Then, reset the simulation.

2. Trigger the bad event and allow the simulation to run for two cycles of retro-feeding. Then, quickly perform 4 interventions (click on the "UP" arrow of the "interventions" icon) in a row. Then pay attention to how long it takes for state to replenish.

Ask yourself: how many interventions are necessary to counter the effect of a single disempowering external event?

Also notice how, after performing the interventions, the system runs until it replenishes fully and develops an "emotional immune system." At that point, you could certainly trigger additional bad events (I encourage you to experiment with it) and the emotional system could easily resist it.

This, my friend, is systemic/ecological thinking.

TEE teaches an approach to emotion management that takes into account the powerful exponential effects of the Emotion Halo. Emotions are not simply an end game in which we either "feel good" or "feel bad." They are part of an intricate dynamic that involves the world around us, how it affects us and how we affect it.

When you're considering systems, for each part you consider, ask yourself:

  1. What does this influence?, and
  2. What influences this?

Within the context of emotion management, this model STARTS with state

  1. What does this influence?, and
  2. What influences this?

… BEFORE an intervention ever happens.

After experimenting with this simulation for a bit, I hope you can now appreciate even more deeply how fundamental it is for us to take the reigns of our emotional states.

When we do, the results can be astounding — even to ourselves!

Tomorrow, I will share the pricing framework for The Emotion Engine. On Monday, I will open enrollment.

Talk soon,

— Martin

P.S. All the emails of the series can be found here.