DAVID LALLY: Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show where we explore the mindsets, motivation and methodologies of success. I’m David Lally, producer of the show, and today we’re going to talk about how to manage ourselves in a crisis. The first step in self-management is self-awareness and one of the best ways I’ve seen to become more self-aware is what we call a Heritage Profile. It’s the secret sauce in our business coaching program where we can actually match activities to abilities. We’ve done tens of thousands of these over the past 25 years and joining me today is Buffini & Company spokesperson for the profile over the last 15 years or more, Kevin Buffini. Welcome to the show, Kevin.
KEVIN BUFFINI: Hey, Dave, it’s great to be with you.
LALLY: Hey, you’ve been on the show lots of times with us. You’ve talked about communication and self-management, but before we get into today’s content, can you tell us a little bit about the heritage profiles for those who don’t know what it is?
BUFFINI: The Heritage Profile is a personality profile assessment that we use at Buffini & Company as a tool to help coach people in the use of their natural gifts and abilities. We spend a lot of time observing people. We spend a lot of time looking at people and listening to people and certainly observing a lot right now. It’s fascinating how people are acting and reacting right now, I think.
LALLY: You and I have been working on the content you’re going to share today to help people out during this time of uncertainty. We have three key areas we want to cover today. Number one, we want to look at how to not let your abilities become liabilities. Next, we want to look at a phrase I love, be aware and beware, and then we’re going to look at manage with care. Number one, don’t let your abilities become liabilities. An ability is a natural area of talent or strength. That’s what we would say, and our abilities tend to react in three ways. Fight or flight, muscle memory, or acting without a plan. Tell me about fight or flight, this first one.
BUFFINI: Anytime something bad is happening to us, our bodies want to save us from that. We go into a fight or flight response. Either we fight it, we want to attack it to get it away from us, or we flight it, we get away from it so that it doesn’t affect us, doesn’t hurt us or harm us. We always feel the need to want to do something. Either fly away or come out swinging. It’s an instinct. It happens immediately.
I remember the very first time that happened to me as a kid. I was in school that I could remember. The teacher was irritated at me and was marching down the classroom towards me full throttle, and I panicked. I didn’t like it. I get up out of my chair and I start backing away from her, and as I was backing away from her, I start dropping one-liners at her. I started trying to distract her so that I wouldn’t get killed. This teacher, she didn’t really hear what I was saying. She was just laughing at what I was doing, and then finally just wanted me to sit down and chuckled at what this young boy was doing. The reality is even from the earliest times, I can remember me using abilities to get me out of trouble.
LALLY: So fight-or-flight is one way our abilities- a natural ability that you have which is to make people laugh, it becomes a liability. Tell us about this next one, muscle memory. We rely on muscle memory. What do you mean by that?
BUFFINI: After we get a spook, our strongest abilities — in a state of heightened intensity, our strongest abilities act out first. We call on our own superhero abilities to save us. They’re the ones that we’ve had with us since we were little boys and girls. In that moment, when we first get a fright, our abilities come out. I’ll never forget, I was about 30, and I was going to Medieval Times with my brothers which is where all 30-year-olds go for their birthday.
LALLY: I was just going to say. Love it.
BUFFINI: I decided I would torment my brothers. All of the Buffini boys were in one car driving up the freeway towards Medieval Times, and something terrible happened on the way. A car decided to exit the freeway, and in doing so, there was a ripple effect where the cars behind all had to jam on or swerve now to avoid this car that was at fault. One of the things that happened was the car in front of us flipped upside down. In that moment, all five Buffini boys had a different reaction to the same moment. We all gasped, we all looked at it, but we all had a different reaction. The first brother, the oldest one, the ethical one with a lot of integrity in his profile, he’s a right or wrong guy, realized someone was at fault and wanted to get that person’s license plate.
The other brother is very driven, very competitive and doesn’t mind stuff that’s hard or challenging. He said, “Fine. Let’s go after him.” The third brother who is very caring, very nurturing, gasped and grasped his chest — The fourth brother, the free-spirited one didn’t seem to care. The fifth brother, the provocative one, the performer, the funny one, just said, “Whoopsie-daisy.” All at the same time. What we’re going through right now is that people can bring out people’s reactions just like that.
LALLY: You have five different reactions, five brothers, one experience, one occurrence. That’s wild. We have the fight-or-flight, the rely on muscle memory. In that instance, each one of you went to your strongest ability and that’s how that reacted. The final way our abilities can become liabilities is that we act without a plan. That’s the penultimate that happens. What does that look like?
BUFFINI: Acting without a plan, it’s doing without thinking. It’s movement without measure. When we do that, when we take action without thinking, it doesn’t always typically work out well for us. We had a client who was here in San Diego doing a bit of work, and when he became aware that the pandemic was serious, decided he needed to get home. He started driving from San Diego to Wisconsin because he wasn’t sure if there was going to be flights. He wasn’t afraid of it being a difficult drive. He wanted to get home to his people.
Halfway home, he had to check into a hotel because he realized along the way he had a cough. He was acting on instinct, an urge to get home as quick as he could, but the reality was he was probably going to hurt people if he wasn’t aware, if he didn’t take that time to think, if he didn’t just stop for a second and think he could actually do more harm than good.
LALLY: We tend to fall prey to our urges, our best intentions if we don’t have a plan.
BUFFINI: Yes. When have you ever heard anybody say, “I’m glad I acted without thinking”?
LALLY: Right. They don’t own up to it anyway. Some of our listeners are in our One2One Coaching program and part of that they get a Heritage Profile as one of the tools to help coach them. Other listeners wouldn’t be familiar what it is, but they would be familiar with themselves with their own history of behavior and so on. Maybe you could share some of the common behavior reactions that you’re noticing right now.
BUFFINI: Let me give you about five or six of these most common reactions that I’m observing and witnessing real time right now. The relational people, people who have relational abilities in their personality profile, they need people, the bottom line, and they’re reacting by wanting to huddle up, get together. It’s primal. It’s something that we use as an early age as kids as pack people and herd people is to get together for safety. That’s the worst thing right now is to get together.
The next ones we have then would be people who have a lot of impressive abilities. People have impressed abilities, they’re very comfortable with an audience, very comfortable with a spotlight, and they’re great at helping people with alerts. What these guys have been doing is they’ve been breaking news to everyone all the time. Any bit of info, any bit of data, they’re turning around, reposting it, re-sending it as fast as it’s coming in.
Next ones we have after that, there will be some of these integrity abilities. People who have a lot of integrity in their profile in crisis tend to look to see what’s the right way to proceed, what’s right, what’s fair, what should we all be doing? What these guys are doing right now and reacting in the moment is they’re looking in your shopping carts. They’re seeing if you’re really six feet away from them or not. They have a heightened level of awareness right now. Their expectation is everybody’s going to adhere to the rules the way they do.
Then we have the free spirits, yours truly included, who- their first thought in a crisis like this is, “Do these rules apply to me? They say that we’re not supposed to be in groups of 10 people or more. If I have eight adults and three kids, would that be okay?” They’re always testing to see where the rules and the boundaries are.
LALLY: The spring breakers you mentioned.
BUFFINI: Exactly. The structured folk. About 65% of the people I’ve ever spoken to have structure in their profile, which means they like to have order. They like plans. They like continuity. They like things to go the status quo. They hate change. Guess what just happened, status quo stopped. Everything’s disorganized. They have no plans. They’re not sure what’s coming. They live in the moment. These are people who are quite present. These guys just realized, oops, there’s no toilet paper left because they left it to the last minute. They just realized this thing is serious and by the time they came to act on something, it was too late.
LALLY: This is brilliant. I can see myself in a few of those. I hate admitting that. We know our abilities can hinder us. That leads to your next point here. I love this phrase, be aware and beware. This is where we step back. We examine where the urge is coming from, become aware of that and then rely on a plan to get us through it and out of trouble. Talk to this a bit, to be aware, what do you mean by that?
BUFFINI: Self-awareness helps us create self-management, and to be aware, we need to understand where these impulses are coming from. What’s your first reaction? I’ve been doing a lot of interactions with our database recently and doing surveys. One of the questions I asked them recently was what was your first reaction to the pandemic? Everybody had different reactions. What I want you to do is examine the urge. Where’s that impulse coming from? I had one. When I first realized this was a pandemic that could affect older people, my first reaction was my 90-year-old parents. My urge, my instinct said, “Go home and save them.”
A firefighter in my profile, I like to save the day. My urge and my reaction and my muscle memory said, and without thinking, without a plan said, “Fly home and take care of my 90-year-old parents, I can save them.”
LALLY: Tell me this, did you go?
LALLY: Why not?
BUFFINI: I took a second. Rather than seeing if I could help, I thought about whether I should help. I realized because I am quite self-aware that it was my need, my firefighter’s need to be helpful that was causing me to want to act this way. Ultimately, had I acted on it without thinking about it, ultimately it could’ve hurt them. I could’ve picked up a bug from San Diego via the airport, crossed the globe and bring it to my parents’ home.
LALLY: Well, that’s a tough choice. It sounds like the right choice you made, of course, pretty good self-management there, Kev. I find myself in intense moments, I can react — I would fall prey to some of the stuff you’ve talked about here. It’s really important to take that second. Why does it happen that we react like that? Why does that happen to us?
BUFFINI: It’s interesting. Anytime we get a fright, we almost have a deer in the headlights expression for a minute. We freeze and freezing is the worst thing we can do. In a crisis, the oxygen in the brain gets sent from the brain to the extremities to prepare for battle. It’s like, we need you down here. Send as much reinforcement as you can. We need to get out of this. When we have an oxygen depleted brain doing all our thinking for us, it’s not the best version of us that’s in the moment, it’s actually a dumber version of us. The oxygen deprived brain then is the one that’s calling all the shots. Your most intense abilities will always be the things that drive your actions. If you’re just relying on muscle memory, stop and ask yourself, am I helping or hurting right now?
LALLY: That makes sense. Can you say that again? I think that’s a really important point to underscore. If you’re relying on muscle memory or you feel you’re just reacting in the moment.
BUFFINI: Yes, if you’re just relying on your muscle memory, the thing to do is take a second and examine what is it that I want to do and why, and is it helpful or hurtful to me to act on that right now.
LALLY: Makes sense. You mentioned earlier that acting without a plan is one of our responses to a crisis. How can we stick to a plan that actually helps us?
BUFFINI: Well, we want to be intentional with the strengths that you have. We want you to use the abilities that you have. Start trying to figure out who can you help with your abilities and where can you help with your abilities. I’ve been donating a lot. I’m a firefighter, I’m always going to be a firefighter. It’s not going to fall off. What I noticed this past week is I’ve donated three times.
BUFFINI: Rather than flying home to “save the day”, let me help some people around my local area in San Diego, it’s a more constructive useful way to use that ability.
LALLY: I love that. It’s a redirecting, right?
LALLY: Okay, Kev. We’ve talked about how we react in a crisis, how abilities can become liabilities and then you shared some solutions to avoid those situations. I think it’d be super helpful if you could give us some clear direction to take on the content that you’ve shared today. How can we put that into action?
BUFFINI: Sure thing. The third thing I wanted to talk to you about is managing with care.
LALLY: Managing with care. I love how we have three major points here. I know there’s one listener who’s going to be very happy and I’m currently sitting in the seat. Let me give our listeners an overview on this point here. Managing with care. You’ve got three major points for us under this. A, stop, take a breath, then act. B, update your self-ware, I love that phrase, and C, build your plan based on your profile. Tell us about the first one there. Stop, take a breath, then act.
BUFFINI: All right. First of all, stop. Before you act, just stop for just a second. Take a breath. Call some of that oxygen and back to the brain, back to the headquarters, so the smartest version of you now is available to meet the crisis, then act. Flood your brain with oxygen by breathing. Flood your brain with oxygen by asking questions. When people ask questions, have you ever noticed they’re not fighting? When people ask questions, there’s a better version of them to meet the world.
LALLY: Yes, that’s great.
BUFFINI: Just by stopping, by thinking, by breathing, the blood goes back to the brain and we’re ready to act. We’re ready to do.
LALLY: Makes sense. I saw this phrase when we were developing this content and you said self-ware, and I think we can all get what you’re saying, but I’d love if you could explain that a little bit. Update your self-ware.
BUFFINI: Right. We’ve been using our abilities since we were little boys and girls, and by this time, we’re adults. It’s hardwired, it’s hardware. It’s so familiar to us that it’s just natural for us to call on our hardware when our backs are against the wall. But if we can think before we act, then we just updated our self-ware, we’re now a higher operating system than we were if we were just acting. Take this time for some self-development. We’ve been forced into an opportunity for a lot of self-reflection, so why not use it? Adding a little bit of thought upfront before our actions, you can update your self-ware.
LALLY: Love it. With the updated self-ware, trying to step away from the fight or flight, not rely so much on the muscle memory, not act without a plan, to your final point here of building a plan based on our profile, what does that actually mean? What does that look like?
BUFFINI: The Heritage Profile was developed as a way to coach people, the way they are designed. We help people create ability-based routines. If you have learning in your profile, we have you take something like pathway to mastery. If you’re structured things like reworking your budget, cleaning your house, spring cleaning right now, if you’re relational, look for other ways to care for people without actually being around them.
LALLY: You’re building a plan, almost like a daily to-do, based on who you are as a person. Again, not everybody has a Heritage Profile, but there are behaviors that they’ve had and some of the stuff that you talked about today will help those who don’t have a profile maybe identify some of the fight or flight or muscle memory reactions or patterns they have.
Ahead of today’s call, when we were talking through some of this content, Kev, the team put together a fabulous resource. It’s an action plan based on your personality. Like you said, things to do to release some energy in a productive way at home. For you listeners, if you want to go get yours, it’s at www.thebrianbuffinishow.com. You can download your copy of that.
This content, Kev, it’s so helpful. Practical things we can do to stay proactive rather than getting caught in that reactive mode, especially when so many things are outside of our control right now. You told us today to, number one, don’t let our abilities become liabilities. Two, you told us to be aware and beware, so know what our abilities are and how to use them and be careful of that too. I love that phrase, be aware and beware, and ultimately, to manage with care. Take the time for reflection and learning. Take this time, as you’ve said, to put your oxygen mask on first. Is there anything you’d like to just summarize for our listeners from all the stuff that you shared with us today?
BUFFINI: Well, first of all, don’t ever let anybody tell you that one person can’t affect the world, but imagine if everybody’s best versions of them was affecting their world right now. You see how people have responded to terrible events in our past, whether it’s starving children in Ethiopia and then you have Live Aid people coming together to help and reach out. Yes, there’s some craziness going on out there, but there’s also tremendous stories of acts of kindness and people supporting one another and helping one another right now, that’s fantastic. I’m waiting for that. I’m looking forward to that. I can’t wait to see three months from now, the goodness that people showed up with. Once they were settled, once they were able to think, you see how people care for one another. I think our country right now especially could really use some of that. I’m really excited to see the good that comes out of this, the good from people that come out of this. People are being forced to reflect and work on their life, not just in their life. I think there’s a moment and there’s an opportunity for us here if we’ll just act on it. I think if we freeze and we don’t move, I think that’s a terrible thing.
LALLY: Well, Kevin, this is fantastic content. I know you’ve been working hard putting this together for our listeners. I just wanted to thank you so much for being on the show today.
BUFFINI: Thanks, Dave. Take care, everybody.
LALLY: That special resource that we built for you, you can go get that at www.thebrianbuffinishow.com. It’s a really cool one-pager where you can see, okay, if I am this, then here’s some stuff I can do. I think you guys will really appreciate that. In the meantime, and until next time, I’m going to leave you with Therese Buffini for a little Irish blessing.
THERESE BUFFINI: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the rain fall soft upon your fields and the sun shine warm upon your face. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand. See you next time.