Listening with an ear that’s tuned into the strengths of those we’re working with can help them tell stories about where they’re the hero and capable of change.
Inviting those we’re working with to describe their preferred future may highlight solutions to problems that they’ve been stuck with for ages.
You do not need to fix everything. Humble inquiry may be more powerful.
Performers in any environment are often relentless and hyper-critical. That may have served them well in some contexts, but is it always the best way forward?
Does an obscure model of integrity hold weight in helping us show up as our best selves in the face of challenges…despite the inherent tensions in trying to do so?
Does a 2000+-year-old philosophy hold some wisdom to help us understand our reactions to adversity and, therefore, give us clues as to how we might overcome them?
What if our labelling of emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ overlooks something important? What if our emotions are merely messengers of things that may be significant to us?
High performers face a deal with their demons.
Specifically, the more they want something and strive towards, the more their demons will surface. The doubts, the worries, the anxiety, the rage. They’re the other side of the coin.
There is, of course, a plethora of advice out there, detailing the use of mental skills as a remedy for the existence of demons. However, the evidence supporting their use within sport is limited and not watertight as their prepreceding reputation may suggest.
In fact, research suggests that trying to get rid of demons results in the beast growing instead of diminishing!
A deal must be struck. You cannot out-run, out-play, out-fight, your own shadow. Acceptance of its existence, its charteristics, its contours may be more promising.
High performers know that there are no shortcuts. No gimmicks. Instead, it takes time, humility, and honesty.
Our demons cannot be removed. They need to be faced up to and accepted as the price tag of pursuing our deepest hopes.
Did this post make you pause and think? Even just for a moment? Think someone else you know may like it? Sharing it with them would be greatly appreciated. Also, check out the ‘Mastering the Nerves‘ course, which outlines some ways of developing our capacity to face our performance demons and be at our best in our respective performance domains.
Love a Guiness advert, I do.
But before that, a short story:
An athlete once expressed a simple frustration:
I should go to X and compete, but I’d rather do Y.
We spent time unpicking why he thinks he should go to X (the event) and of course the usual reasons came up. The main one: the expectation of others.
And so we wrestled with this for a while, thinking about what the best choice would be come Wednesday when he needed to decide whether to compete at X or not.
We were getting nowhere. Should he choose to go to X, or should he do Y.
X ….or Y….X….or Y….X…
So I thought I’d throw in a question:
What if it’s not really a choice between X and Y, but rather, a choice between the type of person that chooses X or the type of person that chooses Y – so, who do you want to be?
His face dropped. He got it.
Choice Points occur at all moments in our lives: in whether you go to the gym or not? Speak kindly or not? Read or not? Act this way or that way? Do this or do that? Speak up, or sit down? Stay in a job or leave? Each choice holding in them, more than just the “mundane” surface-level choice, but also the next piece in the sculpture of ourselves….oh, deep.
But, hey – Guinness knows that! …and so does the athlete, who did “X” – and set a new PB.
When things are tough, their tough.
Our problems can come to dominate our view of the world, our relationships and sense of self. They touch everything and anything. The relating and associative capabilities of the mind knows no bounds.
And yet, change is possible. Maybe not overnight. Nor instantly. But still possible. Subtly.
It may start by simply noticing those briefest of moments when the problem isn’t as much of a problem. Those exceptions to the problem. Times when the problem would normally be present but isn’t, or isn’t as dominant.
Do you notice these instances? Do they register in your darting mind as contrary to the problems dominance? What did you do to that helped this moment come around? What differences, however brief or limited, did this moment make? Who else may have noticed these differences? What might the existence of such moments suggest about your problem? About you?
So, careful now. Change is afoot. Quietly.
““Where you stand determines what you see and what you do not see; it determines also the angle you see it from; a change in where you stand changes everything.” – Steve de Shazer