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5 Ways Leaders Can Improve Emotional Fitness

by Joe Pane

Emotional fitness is measured by the quality of our relationship with uncertainty. It is a psychological preparedness for the pressures, stresses and challenges our professional and personal lives inevitably bring.


Uncertainty is a precursory seed for growth. Growth is a perpetual need of the human condition. In other words, it has been the challenges we have needed to navigate which have given us the most significant growth points.


Facing and embracing uncertainty is not only a prerequisite for our growth, but it also prepares us for the next level of our lives. Next level of responsibilities, obligations and skillsets needed to thrive and survive. It is highly likely that the 2005 version of us would struggle to handle the responsibilities, obligations, and skillsets we need to handle our 2024 version of ourselves.


Our 2024 version of ourselves may struggle to handle the 2035 responsibilities, obligations and skillsets needed in our lives then. We will need to grow into the 2035 version of ourselves. Uncertainty, in its many forms, will need to be embraced to get there. Therefore, uncertainty is part of the very fabric of life. Without it we cannot grow and keep up with our lives’ demands.


Our level of emotional fitness is crucial to how well we navigate life’s challenges. It is important to realize that we can proactively work on improving our emotional fitness, just like moving and exercising our bodies improves our physical fitness. Here are 5 ways we can improve our emotional fitness.

  1. Do something physically hard

Naturally this is very subjective. Do an ice bath, run a marathon, or even participate in your local park run to beat your time. Research has continually shown that physical exertion improves our capacity to navigate the psychological pressures life will bring.

  1. Practice acceptance

When facing any form of difficulty our life brings, the worst thing we can do is avoid, reject, or try to go around the issue. The sooner we accept and embrace it the sooner we can navigate through it effectively. Carl Jung once said “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses it.” We can practice acceptance with the little everyday things that may go wrong, for example, a friend cancels a catch up. Practice accepting it immediately without lolling around in disappointment.

  1. Practice the art of conscious meaning making

Emotions don’t respond to facts. They respond to the meaning we give the facts. Next time you feel a negative or heavy emotion, ask yourself, ‘what meaning have I just given what I have just experienced?’ Changing the meaning changes the emotion which in turn changes our experience.

  1. Create a clean and healthy perspective

Our mind is all we have. When we get caught up in the dramas of life, has anyone ever said to you something like, ‘you just need to get things into perspective!’ When things get tough, we need a clean and healthy big picture view of our situation. In other words, we will need a healthy perspective to lean on. This is created by having a continual connection to gratitude and appreciation. There is always something to appreciate and be grateful for.

  1. Simple rituals to set up our day

Rituals create predictability, comfort, and certainty. We all need a base of certainty to effectively operate in the world. This increases our emotional fitness because we will be psychologically in a much better place to handle the pressures or stresses of our day.

Our emotional fitness plays a crucial role in maintaining our mental health levels at a functional and resourceful level. By consciously working on improving our emotional fitness we will be much better prepared for when we need to navigate those difficult days, or months.

About the Author

Joe Pane is an expert in human behaviour specialising in emotional fitness and the author of the new book “Courage To Be You – Your Guide To Mastering Uncertainty.” With degrees majoring in psychology and sociology Joe has delivered emotional fitness keynotes and workshops to tens of thousands of people since 2006. Find out more at www.joepane.com.au

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