This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #091 with Army Major, Mike Erwin, in which he shares why he believes the most important habit to cultivate is to control your emotions when responding to something you disagree with.


Michael Gervais: If you could install a habit 20 years ago, is there one habit that you would make sure that you installed within yourself?


Mike Erwin:  Yeah I think for me, [it would be] meditation or a practice of mindfulness. You know it’s something I still struggle with. I try to to implement it you know in my life, I certainly don’t do it daily but make it a priority to carve out that time not just to be present, but to calm down my mind. I think that for sure is something that people who are very, very busy, you know when you’re talking parenting and being involved in multiple things, I think there is that sense that there’s always something to do.

And then the other practice to just kind of couple with that there is this ability to control your emotions. I would install a practice of any time receiving information be it via email or text message or whatever, you know that upsets me or that I disagree with, to put it down and to not respond emotionally.

I think that we’ve really created in many many ways in our culture and in our lives especially like with the pace of lightning fast, when things ruffle our feathers or get us upset we do one of two things- either respond emotionally in the moment or we just completely ignore it. I don’t think either one of those is healthy.

I think to me, I would install that practice of you know putting it away for a few hours, to a few days you know, and then engaging in it but not completely ignoring it and certainly not, as I made many mistakes from my time as an intelligence officer, as a teacher at West Point, and you know as a leader in Team Red White and Blue you know where I often respond emotionally, in the moment. Today’s day and age it allows you to do that. Whereas you know I’m not sure that we’re necessarily hardwired for that to be the most effective way to respond to things that we we strongly disagree with or that we’re passionate about.


Listen to full podcast here.


Mike founded Team RWB in 2010 while he was a Captain in the Army and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors.  He served on active duty for 13 years, including three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Mike is currently the President of The Positivity Project and CEO of The Character & Leadership Center.