Leaders are always on the lookout for ways to enhance their ability to influence others. Typically an exercise in introspection, leaders are smart to consider the one area they can control more than any other—themself. Asking what you can do to increase your degree of trust, credibility, and inspiration is a valid and beneficial exercise. Today, however, let’s focus on the affects of outside impetuses. Beyond the workplace, look out your window for today we are going to discuss the affects of weather on decision making. And who better to guide us than the ultimate rainmaker, Storm.
Storm is a superhero commonly associated with the X-Men. She first appeared in 1975 as the daughter of a tribal princess from Kenya. As she got older, Storm realized that she has the ability to manipulate weather. She can adjust the temperature; regulate all forms of precipitation; produce lightning; and generate such meteorological disturbances as tornadoes, thunderstorms, blizzards, and hurricanes. As you are about to learn, Storm’s powers may make her the ultimate leader.
In his book Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, NYU professor Adam Alter cites research where rather than invigorating the mind, good weather blunts cognitive function. Participants in the study were able to recall three times as many items on cloudy days versus sunny ones.
An affront to my Florida upbring, I was surprised that sunshine dulls the mind. However, the rationale makes sense. As Alter explains it:
Humans are biologically predisposed to avoid sadness, and they respond to sad moods by seeking opportunities for mood repair and vigilantly protecting themselves against whatever might be making them sad. In contrast, happiness sends a signal that everything is fine, the environment doesn’t pose an imminent threat, and there’s no need to think deeply and carefully.
Bad weather induces a more negative mood state. We then subconsciously try to overcome this feeling by searching for stimuli that can supersede our dampened mood with happier options. These options include enhanced curiosity, problem solving, and creativity.
To utilize this research, an X-Men world would allow us to make it rain every weekday between 8am and 6pm. Since we don’t have Storm’s abilities, I’d recommend scanning the weather channel each morning. Try scheduling brainstorming sessions around impending storm fronts. Conduct the meeting in a room with windows so everyone can see the rain and, if possible, open a window so they can hear it and smell it.
If seizing on weather-induced bad moods seems devious, consider that the blustery weather already put them in a bad mood. Since you aren’t Storm, you did not create the rain; you’re just making the most of a stormy situation.