How To Take What Happens To You Personally In Business And Win

By Brett Fox at

Businessman with boxing gloves


Large quantities of blood were spilling on the office floor. My blood.

Seconds ago, I had just been shot.

The investor just sneered at me. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying my predicament.

He had just pulled his support for the term sheet he agreed to the week prior. What were we going to do?

I got up.

Bullet holes covered my shirt.

I flashed back to that scene from the Godfather where Tessio says, “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him.” Then Tessio is taken away to be killed.

(You can watch the video here:

Yes it may have been just business to Tessio, but how do you think Michael felt about it?

Michael was going to literally die if his enemies were successful. Of course it was personal!

Yet Michael Corleone was cool and calculating under pressure. Harness these two seemingly polar opposite skills - detachment and taking things personally - and you are well on your way to success.

I know exactly how Michael felt because I was fighting with the investor for the life of my company.   It was a death match that went fifteen rounds and then some.

We were just another company to our enemy. He didn’t care about me. He didn’t care about my company. He didn’t care about all the employees he was hurting with his actions.

It was just business to him.

To the employees and me this was OUR COMPANY. This was OUR BABY.

We were joyous with every victory and we bled with every setback.

And we were not going to let that S.O.B. kill us. NO WAY!


And that’s the thing: Business is personal and not personal at the same time:

It isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

How do successful people balance their emotions and keep their emotions in check?

Here are eight ways to use your emotions to your advantage:

  1. You have to understand your emotions. Do you anger quickly? Are you generally calm? The goal is understanding when and how you get emotional.
  2. Rally yourself. There are plenty of roadblocks we all face in life. Successful business people use their desire to fight to keep themselves going. And you…
  3. Rally the troops. You’re the leader. Your team is looking to you for inspiration. Using your emotions to inspire and motivate your team is one of the best ways to get your team through the tough times. Yet, you…
  4. Never let your team see that you’ve been wounded. This is the skill of keeping your emotions in check. The sky can be falling around you, but your team needs to see your steady hand at the wheel. And you..
  5. Never let your adversary see you are emotional. You can’t let your adversary see you are rattled. Your calm under pressure rattles your opponent. Or you can…
  6. Make your adversary think you are ruled by emotion.   Be a wild, crazy person (in the eyes of your adversary) that is completely unpredictable. This can completely unnerve your adversary. You, on the other hand…
  7. Never let your adversary’s emotional outbursts affect you. Instead, you focus on the message, not the antics of the messenger. This allows you to…
  8. Never make a decision based on emotion. Take a break. Take a walk. Go for a run. Let yourself calm down, so you make your tough decisions based on logic.

Now the odds are stacked in your favor, and that’s all you can ask for.

But this doesn’t answer the question of how to keep your emotions in check. How do elite leaders manage this skill?

I have to admit I struggled mightily with keeping my emotions in check especially early in career. I was so intense. Everything had to go right for me to be happy.

Look out if something went wrong.

Whatever success I had was in spite of my intensity, not because of my intensity.

However, I kept working at it. I eventually found that meditation works for me.

Now, just because I meditate doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. I do get angry and that’s okay.

The lesson isn’t to not get angry. The lesson is to manage your anger (and other emotions) and make your emotions work for you.

Related Post: The Secrets To A Successful And Happy Life

I highly recommend practicing mindfulness. You need a way to keep your mind still whether it’s meditation, prayer, yoga, or something else.

Many top performers have some sort of daily mindfulness practice.

Here’s a partial list:

  • Steve Jobs
  • Mark Benioff, CEO of
  • Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund
  • Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Rick Rubin, Record Producer
  • Evan Williams, Co-Founder of Twitter and Founder of Medium
  • LeBron James
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Phil Jackson, winner of eleven NBA championships as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers

None of these practices is going to eliminate the problems you face. However, mindfulness allows you to be calm under pressure. And that’s what you need to be at your best.

A clear mind allows you to enter flow.   In fact, many high-performance athletes meditate before entering a flow state. Flow’s the state where you are performing at 5X your normal capabilities.

Related Post: How To Make A 5X Improvement In Your Productivity

Mindfulness also reduces your stress and your general health (even the American Heart Association recommends it). I was stressed out before I began my mindfulness practice, and now I am much more calm.

What happened in your fight with the investor?

It was a fifteen-round death match as I said. We were each landing big punches. The investor would land a punch, and then I would land one in return.

It was the most sustained pressure I have ever felt in my life.

Somehow, despite my body covered with as many bullet holes as Sonny Corleone (Sorry, I like the Godfather a lot!), I survived.

(You can watch the video here:

Like what you read? Click here to get access to my best business, marketing and financial guidance.

Picture: Depositphotos