It is difficult to describe the sense of pride felt as I watched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testify before the Senate regarding the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate at Benghazi, Libya. The questioning went on for hours. There she sat, alone at a table. Some senators genuinely wanted more information. Others played to the cameras in an effort to “bring her down” and levy a political blow to one of the world’s most popular political figures. Detractors were outclassed.
Secretary Clinton is no neophyte to the game. She has seen her share of controversy and criticism. Yet, she still moves with an aura of confidence and courage that consistently leaves us in awe. Years of experience mounted atop solid intellect have forged in her great presence, clarity of purpose, and the will and discipline to stand for what she believes, even in the face of adversity.
Anyone, especially women, with aspirations to climb the proverbial corporate ladder might do well to study video of Secretary Clinton’s testimony at the Benghazi hearings.
Accept everyone will not like you and be prepared for some to make it known. In the face of really petty jabs, Secretary Clinton did not flinch. Her dignified, professional demeanor made those hurling crazy accusations look very small. One news commentator said she used her anger strategically. Another observed she made the verbal snipers appear as political pigmies.
Navigating a corporate maze is not unlike appearing before a room of detractors in what may sometimes feel like hours without end. Controlling your own emotions is critical. The foundation for emotional control is intellectual preparation. Secretary Clinton knew the facts and was more prepared with the facts than any of her detractors. She was present and prepared!
Although definitely in control of her emotions, she did not come across as a cold fish. To the contrary, she was confident enough to let us see her passion and compassion, and even her anger. This she could do because of years of experience in the arena. Her skills have not been honed sitting on the sidelines. Secretary Clinton has battle scars that may indicate just how she learned to stay calm in the storm.
Staying calm in the storm is a major lesson to be learned. When crazy things happen as they surely will. When detractors put you on the hot seat, as they surely will. When your best-laid plans turn into a real mess, as some surely will. You must have the will and discipline to keep your wits about you. Detractors are ready for your emotional outbursts from a position of unprepared, “I’ll show you” anger and retaliation. Detractors are not generally prepared for a calm, well prepared, agile target. They will generally not be prepared for you in control.
- Know your subject. Think about it from multiple angles. Be prepared.
- Emotional control develops through facing challenges.
- Detractors will not generally be prepared for you in control of your emotions.