How Princess Elsa managed her ‘amygdala hijack’ in Frozen

Princess Elsa understands leadership, and how to control her emotions. And how to control her ice-making superpower. Especially when she gets out of control. Or at least now she does. 

The movie Frozen (or the Musical – which Mrs G and I went to see last week in Brisvegas) is an amazing lesson in leadership. Yes, we love musicals. And yes, we were some of the only couples there without kids. We were the big kids there! 

For those of you with daughters, you will be familiar with the plot… I’m guessing. If you haven’t seen the movie (which I haven’t), the plot is about a Princess who is to become queen. Princess Elsa can turn things, like hearts, to ice. If she doesn’t control her emotions that is. Because of that, Elsa is separated from other humans. Including her little sister Anna, who is shattered to lose contact with her big sis. A sad part of the story. 

In psychology, the loss of emotional control is called an amygdala hijack. In short, being triggered causes an emotional reaction. That reaction causes us to ‘fly off the handle’ for want of a better description. We say and do things that are uncool. Then feel sorry, and maybe even say sorry, afterwards. When we have calmed down.  

Overcoming an amygdala hijack is about responding, not reacting. Reacting is not the preferred option. As Princess Elsa worked out.  

So, what can we learn from Princess Elsa? 

Princess Elsa knew that she was responsible for her impact on others 

Princess Elsa was very caring. She knew that her behaviour impacted others. And her amygdala hijacks could be dangerous. Very dangerous. As a leader, Elsa knew that she could have a serious long-term impact on others if she couldn’t control her emotions. 

Tip – Most leaders don’t understand that you can heal or harm, hurt or help. Choose your language, and behaviour to choose the formers. 

Princess Elsa knew she had an issue, and addressed it 

Princess Elsa took an extreme action. She removed herself from other humans until she could be sure she could stay in control, and even got some gloves to cover her hands, to make sure no ice came out of them and froze people. Winner. In short, she did what it took, to learn how to behave differently.  

Tip – Being in control is learnt behaviour. If you give yourself permission to react, instead of responding, it might be time to think about new strategies for emotional control. 

Princess Elsa never stopped caring 

Princess Elsa saved her little sister Anna, with ‘an act of true love’. Elsa was able to undo the hurt she had caused. Elsa thawed Anna’s heart. She never stopped caring and looking out for Anna. While the theatre was shedding a tear. A beautiful moment in the musical! 

Tip – Leadership is about Extreme Ownership and taking responsibility for your ‘emotional wake” (credit Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations). Keep caring and try to undo any hurt. ASAP. 

Reach out if you want more information, to dig into your reactions and responses when under pressure, and together we can work through some coping strategies. 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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Sources  https://www.qpac.com.au/event/frozen_22/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwgMqSBhDCARIsAIIVN1UICH8q0f3by6kJQvItRwg3Xpnphex0_veGTaT0GrDIzYeFhJ6TIisaAlgMEALw_wcB  

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