Of the many talents that make for a good business analyst, there is only one that is universally required for a business analyst to become great. Emotional Detachment.
For a business analyst, it is their ability to uncover and expose the true circumstances of a problem, environment or organisation that unpins the value they deliver. This is enabled by their personal ability to be present in the moment and engaged in their surroundings. It is entirely about their attitude, state of mind, attention to detail, motivation, and focus. It is their calmness that empowers these abilities, and it is emotional detachment that empowers calmness.
Emotional detachment as discussed here, is that which is defined in psychology. As science daily describes, emotional detachment is:
A type of mental assertiveness that allows people to maintain their boundaries and psychic integrity when faced with the emotional demands of another person or group of persons.
Emotional detachment is the most powerful skill in the art of business analysis. A source of power that comes from your character and emotional intelligence. It is your ability to focus on your work; prioritise what is important; trust people and have them trust you. It is your ability to provide support when needed; to challenge when appropriate; to know the difference and to choose your battles. All of this comes from your ability to remain calm and stay focused, all of the time. This is what it means to be emotionally detached.
It is this form of emotional detachment that allows a business analyst to be great. No matter the situation, an emotionally detached business analyst can remain calm and focus their attention on the factors of the environment or situation. It is by doing so, a business analyst can notice the hidden problems, the underlying politics and the secrets in the cupboards of organisations. These are the foundations of greatness of problem definition, requirements specification and solution approaches; the core duties of business analysis.
Emotional detachment is not apathy
Being emotionally detached is NOT to be apathetic, disengaged, uncaring, dull or disingenuous.
No, to the contrary.
To be emotionally detached is to give great care and consideration. It is to be engaged and focused on the moment. It is to be concerned and to be motivated. Being emotionally detached means that you know where and how to draw the line between what is your responsibility as a business analysis and what is not. It is to separate the emotions you feel about the work you from the actions and decisions of that work.
Results and outcomes do not deliver themselves. To be emotionally detached is to recognise that your focus on high quality work is what delivers result. It is to be invested in the quality of your work at the moment you are doing your work. It is about having faith in yourself and your approach. It is about having the confidence not to fear failure or mistakes, but to be aware of your weaknesses and actively work to remove and mitigate them.
I repeat. Emotional detachment is not apathy.
Emotional detachment is keeping calm.
Staying calm, no matter the situation you find yourself allows you to monitor and control your emotional responses to outside events. The actions of others, the conditions of your workplace, or the culture or your organisation. Staying calm allows you to hold your tongue, to listen rather than speak. These are essential qualities for great business analysis.
Being in the present moment, paying attention, watching and listening is the essence of doing outstanding work as a business analyst. Being detached allows you to keep your mind open and be sensitive to the opportunities that may present; the knowledge you may require and acquire; and the people you need to help. To recognise and capture these things, you must always be in the moment.
Learning emotional detachment
In the modern project world where distractions are everywhere and pressures are constant, being in the moment is very difficult. It is not something you can just switch into overnight. Learning to be emotionally detached takes determination, motivation, technique, practice and most of all, time.
It is my daily routine of calm abiding mediation that has enabled me to take the next step in the work that I do as a business analyst. Thirty minutes every morning, is the best gift I can give to myself both in business and in life. Daily mediation sharpens the mind and trains it not to be easily distracted. Daily mediation is for me, the action of keeping priority and doing first things first. The time I spend training to stay in the present and keep focused on the task at hand. Daily meditation is the time I invest into being my best.
It takes dedication and practice not to be distracted and to remain calm. It takes commitment and time to meditate every day. Without a doubt, such an investment is worth every minute. For it is the emotional detachment that results from calmness and the calm that comes from meditation, that enables the delivery of greatness in the work of business analysis.