Managing your emotions around money the same way the New Zealand All-Blacks manage their emotions could have a dramatic impact not only on your finances but also on other aspects of your life.

We don’t think of our ability to manage our emotions as a skill. We generally think of it as a fixed product of our character. And since it’s not viewed it as a skill, people don’t attempt to improve it. However, the world’s most successful sports team, the New Zealand All-Blacks, believe managing their emotions are a skill to be practiced.

After ‘choking’ several times at World Cups, they now treat their emotional skills in much as the same way as they treat their physical skills – as muscles to be trained with specific workouts and exercises. For many years now, they have used a simple, but powerful, mental model, developed by a UK firm, Gazing Performance Systems. The ‘blue-red’ framework has helped the All-Blacks win the last two Rugby World Cups.

The simple idea is you build yourself an emotional thermostat that senses when it’s overheating and cools itself down when needed to make good decisions. It’s a simple 3-step process:

1) As your default setting, seek to stay in ‘blue-head’ mode

Blue-Head mode is when you make your best decisions. You feel calm. You think clearly and your attention is fully engaged.

2) Sense the cues when you are entering ‘red-head’ mode

Red-Head mode is when you make your worst decisions. Your emotional engine is smoking. Your decision-making is rushed and you are distracted.

The crucial step is sensing when your emotions are taking over – you start getting agitated, you start making rush decisions, your attention is being diverted. With this awareness of when the “red mist” is descending, you can then use well-rehearsed strategies to return yourself to the cooler blue state.

3) Use a physical or mental trigger to get yourself back into ‘blue-head’ mode

To pull yourself back to blue-head mode you need to give yourself a memory aid, or trigger, to refocus your attention. These triggers should be: a) physical or mental: a memorable trigger your brain associates with being in ‘blue-head’; b) immediately accessible: this trigger is then repeated until the ‘blue-head’ state of mind and the trigger are linked and automatic; c) personalised: devise a trigger that works for you. For example, one All-Black stamped his feet into the grass to ground himself whilst another used mental imagery to picture himself looking on dispassionately from the highest seat in the stadium.


Source: Gazing Performance Systems

Everyone experiences negative feelings around money at some stage. The ‘blue-red’ framework allows you to manage your negative emotions when things get heated.