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Most effective leadership style: Push th ...

Most effective leadership style: Push through or let go?

Sep 19, 2023

Transforming Trauma into a Powerful Leadership Style

Tomorrow, you will be presenting an important project. On top of that, your potential promotion heavily relies on its success. Being ambitious, you naturally strive for perfection in every aspect of your presentation: the writing, the design, and the delivery of your speech. 

You meticulously fine-tune even the tiniest details and practice your speech repeatedly. 

However, a heavy sensation lingers in your stomach whenever you think about the presentation. Nervosity, perhaps fear. You feel you are not enough.

You might wonder how many of your actions and decisions are driven by fear. Fear of discomfort, not meeting expectations in your tasks, missing deadlines, financial worries...

Unleashing Motivation: Transforming Fear through EMDR

Fear, like any other emotion, can serve as a motivational force that can be harnessed and transformed into a driving force. However, there are more efficient techniques than this. Let's explore the power of EMDR.

One of my clients, an incredible athlete, who has won several world titles used to be motivated by a survival mode. Not having top-notch equipment, there was an urge to perform the very best, and the sympathetical flight modus was activated bringing the body into the highest concentration. There was a fear of not being able to travel and pursue an athletic career if losing the competitions. For a long time, the performance was motivated by a survival mode and brought podiums. Suddenly, when, the equipment and support were there the performance dropped. A feeling of not being enough appeared. Using EMDR we were able to relieve the unnecessary fear of failure and to transform the motivation.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a therapeutic approach developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. In the classic approach, EMDR primarily treats individuals who have experienced traumatic events. 

How does EMDR work?

The technique involves a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while focusing on distressing memories or thoughts. The goal of EMDR is to reprocess these memories, alleviate emotional distress, promote healing, and program your mind toward your goals. EMDR has gained recognition and is recommended by organizations like the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for treating trauma-related conditions.

So, how can you use this traditionally clinical approach to rewrite your story and use it to fuel your sustainable growth?

Rethinking Success and Happiness for Women Leaders

According to the McKinsey report, last year 43% of women experienced burnout, which is 13% higher than men. Scientific studies, such as the one conducted by Koutsimani, Montgomery, and Georgina in 2019, have established a clear link between burnout and varying anxiety levels. This raises an important question: Is it time to reconsider our approach to work? 

And more importantly, what is the secret formula for achieving peak performance while maintaining a sense of fulfillment and well-being along the way?

There's this common belief that it must be a challenging ride to excel or stand out. You have to push through the pain and be assertive to achieve the top. And as women, there's this added pressure to prove ourselves twice as much as men. Let's challenge that notion, shall we?

My Story: Exploring High Performance through Cultural Contrasts

I come from the Czech Republic, where it's believed that fear is the ultimate driving force, ensuring that only the strongest individuals achieve outstanding performance, whether in academics, sports, or the professional realm. 

This environment thrives on pushing through pain and making sacrifices. However, finding this approach ineffective, I decided to pursue my studies in Germany. While the approach here differs slightly, the fundamental belief in the necessity of hard work to achieve exceptional accomplishments remains unchanged.

Since then, half of the past decade I have spent traversing various countries in Latin America, each offering its own unique experiences. I found myself face-to-face with an entirely different approach—starkly contrasting to what I had known before. It was a world characterized by intuition, ease, tranquility, and a sense of letting go. The extremes of pushing through and surrendering, tension and calmness, all coexisted in this tapestry of contrasting philosophies.

My curiosity was piqued. Can we bridge these two worlds? And unleash your potential to an extent that would enable you to reach peak performance with ease, satisfaction, and health? It is not just an experiential fact, the modern science on peak performance supports this suggestion. Proper recovery, sleep (Kapsi, Katsantoni, & Drigas, 2020), and the ability to relax are seen as crucial factors in the promotion of learning abilities and overall cognitive performance (Wardle-Pinkston, Slavish, & Taylor, 2019) both leading to better performance. 

Embracing the Kelios Approach: A Life-Changing Journey

Besides being a psychologist, polyglot, and scientist, I'm an athlete at heart, fueled by my pursuit of extreme sports at the highest level. So it happened that I landed in the Dominican Republic to train for the Olympics of kite foil racing. Days blurred into hours as I devoted everything to intense training. I felt the time pressure. I was exhausted. At the same time, I felt the urge to learn as fast as possible. Guided by a local expert, I realized what could be the ultimate formula for reaching the pinnacle of high performance.

I learned to listen to my coach's advice. Instead of training for long hours, I focused on quality training and rest. Surprisingly, I achieved exponentially better results in less time. My performance improved by taking breaks to gain energy and avoid frustrating spirals, practicing mindfulness, visualizations, EMDR, installing flow, and doing my best to stay relaxed. I started taking advantage of the sleeping effect - letting time to my body and mind to accommodate the newly learned stuff (Wardle-Pinkston, Slavish, & Taylor, 2019). Frustration spirals disappeared, and I based my development on my achievements even if back in the day I wouldn't even see them. I started to celebrate every session. Slowly, my sessions became more effective, and my progress skyrocketed. 

Fear is not your best motivator if you strive for the best performance, whether in sports or holding a high position as an executive. Fears, like exhaustion, lack of sleep, tension, stress, and impatience or frustrations based on not-matched expectations minimize your focus and, consequently, hinder your performance. Fear makes you tense or weak, and for sure not flexible. Flexibility is what you need to be free and able to react in any circumstances.

How to Escape the Energy Drain of Fears and Ruminative Patterns with EMDR

I used to have a panic fear of water, and as my approach was to push through the pain in order to achieve my unreachable challenges, facing the fear I eventually succeeded in learning kiteboarding (a watersport). But it wouldn't be without EMDR, that I would be able to sail 60km/h on the open ocean training for the Olympics in kite race foiling. Changing my training approach to be more focused, stress-free, and mindful made me stronger while being more intuitive and flexible. It pushed my performance exponentially with less effort and energy waste.

EMDR, combined with an installation of a Flow state of mind, is a powerful technique that can free you from fears and limitations. It opens up a space you didn't know existed boosting your focus, bringing clarity to your thoughts by embracing mindfulness and connecting with your body and mind. You'll supercharge your work efficiency, stay calm under stress, make better decisions (Akinci, & Sadler‐Smith, 2019), and be naturally confident.

Embrace the feminine type of working

Once you are set free of your fears, you should start finding and strengthening intuitive, nurturing, soft, and grounded ways of approaching challenges in work and life. Stepping out of the zone of comfort - just when it is time for it, seems to be more effective and sustainable not just for your personal health but also your satisfaction. And both are also crucial for the success of your company.

Men were leading the world with a direct competitive and assertive approach when women started getting into the play, which strengthened the belief that the hard way is the way to be when you want to succeed and reach the top. Nevertheless, we used to believe the universe was turning around the earth, until someone heroic enough proved differently. 

With the right techniques, it will be natural for you to bring more empathy, mindfulness, and intuition into the world of peak performance and become a star in your area of expertise. 


Akinci, C., & Sadler‐Smith, E. (2019). Collective intuition: Implications for improved decision making and organizational learning. British Journal of Management, 30(3), 558-577.

Koutsimani, P., Montgomery, A., & Georgina, K. (2019). The relationship between burnout, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 284.

Kapsi, S., Katsantoni, S., & Drigas, A. (2020). The Role of Sleep and Impact on Brain and Learning. Int. J. Recent Contributions Eng. Sci. IT, 8(3), 59-68.

Wardle-Pinkston, S., Slavish, D. C., & Taylor, D. J. (2019). Insomnia and cognitive performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep medicine reviews, 48, 101205..

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