I had back surgery last year. Eventually I went to physical therapy. After an initial assessment, my therapist, Karen, said, \u201cWe need to activate your core more.\u201d You might have heard that terminology from Pilates or other exercise regimes.\nHow we hold ourselves makes a difference\nKaren went on to say I was not holding my body in a way that was engaging my core muscles. I\u2019m a Pilates veteran. I knew what she was talking about. I had been coddling my lower back because of the surgery. I was not holding myself in a way that used the strongest part of my body. This worked against my recovery and mobility.\nKaren suggested something brilliant. She said for me to imagine how I would stand if a bunch of three-year-olds were running around me. I should imagine I was going to be bumped or knocked down. I got it immediately. I started holding my body differently, standing from a lower center of gravity. I felt more grounded.\nI loved the visualization Karen offered about the kids. My body immediately reacted and adjusted to what that would mean.\nEnvision the challenge\nLet's apply this thinking at work. What challenges are you currently facing? Clients have raised these topics to me lately:\n\nTalking with the boss about a performance appraisal.\nReceiving challenging interview questions.\nRequesting a development opportunity.\n\nHow about you? When have you handled your particular situation well, what were you thinking about? What grounded you? Take yourself back to that successful situation or a similar one and feel it in your bones.\nFor example, in the past, when I went into a performance appraisal I would know it inside and out. I remember a day my boss gave me feedback I hadn\u2019t heard before. It seemed vague and unfamiliar to me. I asked, \u201cCan you give me an example?\u201d He couldn\u2019t come up with anything. I never heard that criticism again.\nI realized later that I was grounded. I knew my strengths, limitations and my performance well. I was open to feedback. That particular feedback didn\u2019t make sense to me. My clarity allowed me to ask a question that resolved it in a moment.\nWhat else you can learn from engaging your core\nI love the idea of engaging your core, physically or metaphorically. How do make your values such a part of you that you act from them consistently?\nI once had a colleague who would humiliate and bully his co-workers or subordinates then they messed up. He might call them names or ask them if they knew how stupid they were. Fortunately he was aware this wasn\u2019t helping him. He asked me for help.\nI asked him to connect with his values (i.e. core). I asked him \u201cWhat kind of person do you want to be in this situation?\u201d Despite how tempting it was to punish someone for messing up, he didn\u2019t like that about himself either. He hadn't thought about my question before. He had to tap into the person he wanted to be.\nHow do you engage your core in tough or challenging situations at work?