Day 8: live above the line

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Welcome to Day 8 of Confidence Boot Camp. We hope you are following along and doing the exercises every day to help you build stronger core confidence. Remember, confidence is not a static condition or a place you can “arrive”. It takes practice, awareness, re-setting and developing your confidence muscles so you can be resilient no matter what life events come your way.
Today’s tool is a way to build stronger Emotional Confidence, and it’s a tool we learned from our colleagues at Top 20 Training, a group of teachers who developed a set of simple tools to help students, parents and teachers build stronger emotional intelligence skills.  We love this tool because it’s so simple and easy to implement as a practice. Part of the reason we teach simple tools for building emotional skill is that when your brain is hijacked, or in an emotional state, you can’t access your memory for complex models. We want you to be able to quickly remember—even when you’re wrought with feelings—what you can do to manage your emotions.
This tool is simply called “The Line”, so here are the basics.
Clear, focused thinking is essential to doing your best at work, and sometimes we don’t even realize whether we are in a clear thinking or feeling state until we pay attention to what we’re saying:
“I’m having had a bad day today.”
“I hate Mondays.”
“I don’t feel like working.”
Recognizing how you are THINKING, FEELING, AND COMMUNICATING is critical to your job performance and having good interpersonal relationships.




We all have an imaginary LINE that is with us wherever we go. We may not be aware of it all the time, but it’s there. The Line helps us judge our thinking, feeling and communicating at any given moment. Like this:

When we are “above the line”, we generally think, learn and communicate in highly effective ways.  We often feel:


When we are "below the line", we usually think, learn, and communicate in less effective ways. We might feel:



What are some words you might use to describe how you feel, think and communicate when you are “above the line”?

What words describe how you feel, think and communicate when you are “below the line”?



Indicators are the physical signs and signals we experience that help us judge whether we are above or below the line:
•Do I feel tense? 
•Am I calm and feel in control?                
•Can others approach me easily?
•Am I walking more quickly or more slowly?    
•Am I short in my responses to others?  
•Can I laugh at myself?
•Do I want to blame others?
•Do I feel decisive?      
•Do I have a headache?       
•Am I looking forward to going to work?
•Am I breathing more rapidly?                 
•Are ideas coming to me more easily?
What are your indicators? How do you usually respond to your indicators?

Life looks different above and below the line

Our experience in life is greatly influenced by our state of mind, and whether we are ABOVE or BELOW the line.
When we are Above the Line—positive, energized, clear and productive—work seems easy.  The people we work with are helpful, we operate as a team, and we feel like we can conquer the world together.  We can even appreciate our differences and value conflicts that occasionally arise.
When we are Below the Line, simple problems can look like catastrophes, and the people we work with seem difficult, oppositional, annoying, or incompetent. We experience more conflicts and we tend to blame other people for problems.



Trampolines & Submarines

Being Below the Line is part of being human.  It isn’t a bad thing; sometimes it just “is”.  What we do with our “below the line” state is another thing.



If you’re below the line and want to get back above the line, you can use TRAMPOLINES.  Trampolines are the positive actions we use to help us feel better, clarify our thinking, and “get back in the game”.


Trampolines might include:

  • Taking a break
  • Listening to music
  • Eating a snack
  • Deep breathing
  • Getting some exercise
  • Talking to a friend

Trampolines help us “re-set” our mental barometers and get back to being productive.  What are your trampolines?


Sometimes we just don’t have it in us to rebound, and we might need to stay below the line for a while.  Being below the line is okay, as long as you’re aware of it, and you take responsibility for how your thinking, feeling and communicating affects other people.

Below the line behavior hurts others. 


You can contain your below-the-line thinking, feeling and communicating by using The Submarine.  Putting yourself in a submarine allows you to accept the way you are feeling, but not hurt anyone else with irresponsible words or behavior. 

Being in a submarine might look something like this:

  • Closing your office door for a short period.
  • Saying to a colleague, “I’m not on my A game today, so please don’t take anything I might say personally.”
  • Focusing on independent work tasks that might be less people-oriented, such as paperwork or computer work.
  • Listening to music on headphones while doing manual labor that doesn’t require communicating with others.

CAUTION: The Submarine is a technique intended for use ON OCCASION. If you find yourself in the submarine for multiple days, or if you notice one of your co-workers in the submarine for extended time periods, it might be time to ask yourself or him/her, “WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?”

*The good news about a submarine is that it always COMES UP (eventually).


Here is your practice assignment for today:
Get out your journal (from Day 4 on Journaling) and respond to the following questions:

  1. Where are you on The Line right now? (Above, Below, or hovering around the middle)
  2. What indicators do you have about where you are?
  3. What trampolines do you typically employ to bring you up when you are below the line?
  4. Think of a time when you needed to be in a submarine and describe it.
  5. What did you do to protect others from your below-the-line behaviors?
  6. What helped you bring your submarine back to the surface (above the line)?

During the coming week, pay close attention to whether you are ABOVE THE LINE or BELOW THE LINE at various times during the day. Sometimes it helps to track it on a calendar or in your daily planner, just to note your own patterns.
What does “The Line” have to do with confidence?
Good question.
By now, you’ve probably started to see that confidence is largely connected to our perceptions of control—over our emotions, our physical bodies, or our thinking. Learning to be more aware of our emotions helps us to manage those emotions more readily, and actually use emotion strategically as a guide to our actions. The more purposeful we can be in our actions helps us build a stronger internal sense of control, or confidence.
Practice The Line and let us know how it works for you. Whether you’re above or below the line, there’s no failing in your practice. It’s just information for you to observe in yourself, and then decide what you want to do with it.
Thanks for joining us today at Confidence Boot Camp, and we can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

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