I have lived the Army life for twenty-six years and corporate life for eight years and interacted with folks at the top at both places. I can say with conviction that I have not found a single gentleman who is in the top hierarchy and is in the permanent “ON” stage or is not able to toggle between “ON” and “OFF stage”.
Each one of us have got autonomous nervous system which consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nervous system charges you up and you are ready for action with intensity (ON stage).
Parasympathetic nervous system relaxes you up (OFF stage). Both the systems are very much required for the smooth functioning. Now imagine a situation when you are required to be charged up and you are OFF or vice versa. Your entire working will get affected. Successful leaders are those who can manage this switch smoothly. I was told about a Gurkha battalion which was stuck in a hostile environment-young officers were waiting for the day when Commanding Officer will lose his temper in such a situation. But he never obliged them in spite of all the pulls and causalities. The unit not only came out with flying colours but gentleman also rose to become Major General. In corporate environment, I rarely find anybody making it big with ON stage, permanently.
Now imagine a situation when the enemy is at the gate and soldiers are in “OFF” stage. In the corporate life, you have got an important presentation to make and you are in “OFF” stage. Also, your most important decisions should not be taken when you are under the influence of Sympathetic nervous system (ON stage). Do you ever find Narendra Modi shouting during his conversation with colleagues? Same Narendra Modi is charged up when delivering the election speech. The key is that you create an image of being charged up but keep your PNS activated as well.
The balance between ON and OFF stage keeps on changing as you climb higher in life, become more mature, understand the situation better and become confident of your decision.
More the influence of Parasympathetic sympathetic nervous system on the body-more is the probability of reaching the higher echelons of excellence because of better decisions. Did you ever hear President Obama or Prime Minister Modi losing their temper? Did you ever hear of Indira Gandhi or Sam Manekshaw losing temper during 1971 war? Simply because major decisions were taken under the influence of Parasympathetic nervous system (OFF stage).
I am sure you know the speech of Gen Yahya Khan of Pakistan just before 1971 war. It was under the influence of Sympathetic nervous system.
How do you strengthen PNS? Does not involve complicated mechanism. It is indeed very simple- moderate exercise, moderate meditation and good relationship, each one complements the other. Your daily routine is the key. Just see the routine of Narendra Modi – he does Yoga and meditation to activate PNS. Repeat this every day and that is the road to success.