Setting Ourselves Up for Success
This morning before school I was helping my kiddo with his homework and was very impressed with the way his school is teaching them to think mindfully about what they want to say and how they want to say it before diving into their answers. (Who knows, I may have been taught the same thing back in the third grade at Russel Elementary School in Kalispell, MT, but have long since forgotten). It’s not a fancy system – just a simple bullet-point list outlining the beginning, middle, and end to support their point – but it ‘s one that works. By the time my nine-year-old had outlined his topic, he was ready to rock-and-roll on his essay without any stress.
We talk about this a lot in OnStage, the importance of preparation, and unanimously people fess up to walking into meetings without giving what they want to say a lot of thought. Sure, for a high-stakes client meeting they’ll prepare, or for a meeting to the board or the C-suite, they’ll prepare, but 99% of the time when they’re meeting with their teams or with their employees, they’ll pull it straight from their behind and assume the best. I’m not pointing fingers, I’ve done it too. It’s human nature, when you’re busy, to prioritize who will forgive you and who won’t when you’re not bringing your best. But the the thing that occurs to me as I write this, is do we really forgive ourselves? Because I don’t think we do. I think, when we put work out there that doesn’t reflect our best we know it, we feel it, and it colors how we experience ourselves. Our confidence in our abilities takes a hit. Our sense of efficacy. Our ability to connect and engage with others fully. And, whether we’re conscious about it or not, we carry that with us in all we do. It impacts the way we show up in the world.
Maybe the stakes are higher that we realize.
In the theatre, actors will spend hundreds of hours preparing before they ever take the stage. They’ll remove all their tension. They’ll focus their concentration. They’ll delve into their character’s motivation and the obstacles that they might encounter. And they do all of this before they ever pick up the script. Their preparations are ritualized, steeped into the process. Because they know that to act – to allow yourself to be that vulnerable and to play full out, they cannot wing it. They must be so incredibly prepared that they can then leave their preparation on the sidelines to be fully present and ignite the moment. And that’s where the magic lies.
It’s accessible to all of us – the ability to prepare. To ritualize setting ourselves up for success. We tell ourselves we don’t have time, but it doesn’t take a lot of time – it can be done in all of 5 minutes – it takes mindfulness. It takes doing it.
To remove the tension we carry.
To focus our concentration.
To understand the impact we want to have and the obstacles we might encounter.
To get clear. “What’s my point?”
So that we can be fully present and ignite the moments of our lives. For that’s where the magic lies.