“Sometimes you need a friend whispering advice in your ear and telling you to breathe at those most difficult moments in the work when you really need to hear it.”

Someone really nice said that to me yesterday. Great timing as I gear up to simultaneously launch my first book into the world, wrap up a crazy year, plan for an even crazier 2017, and plan for the holidays. So, I’m passing along the advice.

Just breathe.

Count to ten.

It really is that simple. No special tricks necessary (although I always recommend planting your feet on the ground and closing your eyes for a minute too).

The reason we teach preschoolers to take a breath and count to ten is because it helps us connect more quickly with the thinking part of our brain after it has been flooded by the chemicals that trigger our fight-or-flight response. We call it our “lizard brain”. It’s that hard wired.

Our lizard brain has a million stories to tell us about how we don’t have time for this, how terrible we are, or how awful it will be when we fail. (It is, after all, our lizard brain’s job to keep us from doing things that could be dangerous in any way.)

If you want to respond to people well, if you want to make bold decisions and be open to opportunity, then you need to get to the thinking part of your brain – quickly. How do you get there?

It’s simple – Before you do anything else, take a deep breath and count to ten.

So, whether you are a CEO, an impatient mom, or just overwhelmed with year-end planning and holiday preparations:

Take a breath.
Count to ten.
Just breathe.

This post is based on a tool included in my new book, Finding Time To Lead, available December 15, 2016 for download on Amazon. If you’d like a sneak peek, join our “FTL Launch Crew” for a free advance copy.