It’s hard to show up as your Best Self, sometimes. Maybe because the stakes feel high. Maybe because the stakes ARE high. Maybe because you’re in unfamiliar territory. Maybe because you’re not focused on right things. Maybe because you’re not sure what the right things are.
While we don’t always deserve to win — hey, there’s no shame in someone else being Numero Uno every now and again — we certainly do deserve to be at our best when it matters most.
With that in mind, here are some things to (try to) remember whenever you recognize your mind and spirit are not where you’d like them to be:
1. Act like the ‘second’ mouse — Most of the things our Lesser Selves worry about are highly unlikely outcomes. But spend enough time worrying about them and — snap! — you become like the ‘first’ mouse studying that piece of cheese just sitting there on the trap. The ‘second’ mouse, in contrast, knows that there is no spring-loaded peril to worry about.
Example: I was pitching some new business recently and right before the ‘decision’ meeting I got cold feet — what if he says “Sorry, we can’t give you the go-ahead because of XYZ”? What then? Rather than lose my composure, I realized that if that particular scenario occurred, the job just wouldn’t happen. But as far as any other push-back, I made sure my explanations and rationales were crisp and focused so as not to be undermined by the ‘trap’ that wasn’t there.
2. Acknowledge your Inner Gremlin’s perspective — Okay, so a lot CAN go wrong. You wouldn’t believe me if I said anything different. And our inner Gremlins, the one’s who jabber on with all their negative self-talk and worry, well, maybe they really do realize something that we don’t just yet.
Example: I’ve recently been leading a series of classes on Conflict Management and while preparing for one of them, I heard my Inner Gremlin distinctly say, “What if you run out of material before you run out of time? What will you do, THEN, Buddy-Boy?!” Now I could have simply discounted the voice, but instead, I prepared another 15-20 minutes of material to have…just in case. Did I need it? No. But I was glad I had it…just in case. And knowing that I had it gave me one less thing to worry about and that made it much, much easier to show up as my Best Self.
3. We do not have to have total control of a moment to stay fully engaged in the moment — Now I’m a big fan of control. It makes things so much easier. But the absence of control doesn’t make things impossible, just a bit more uncertain. And when things are uncertain is when it’s best to be our Best Self.
Example: I was coaching someone on something I knew very little about and the pangs of ‘not knowing’ were becoming increasingly distracting. But rather than turn my attention away from the conversation so that I could indulge in my worry, I opted to give the conversation my undivided attention. And you know what? Choosing to stay engaged helped me to listen that much more closely, which enabled me to, amazingly enough, know just what to say and ask at just the right moments to let my Best Self shine through.
It’s ironic how we so often filter ourselves from saying or asking what our Best Self would recommend for fear of inadequately representing our Best Self.
It’s also completely avoidable, which is kind of awesome, actually, isn’t it?!