No, this is not some ineffective, wishy-washy, woo-woo solution to a tough business problem. Understanding the link between your ability to stay present in every moment is critical to achieving the results you want and having the type of impact that you seek in business, your career, and your personal life.
As always, elite athletes are a source of inspiration when looking to perform in a way that achieves results. In the face of challenges, pressure, judgement, and expectations, they are able to focus 100% of their energy to stay focused and engaged on the task at hand to create the results that they desire.
However, in order to be able to be fully 100% energetically engaged in what you are doing to reach peak performance, just like elite athletes, it is important to address the two significant and common things that hold high-achievers and leaders back from consistently hitting their greatness:
“Why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken?” - Michael Jordan
We all know that fear is a major obstacle in achieving our goals. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of missing out. Slightly different, but they all amount to the same thing - being fearful of what might happen in the future. But here’s the thing: The future that we are fearful of does not exist! It is a figment of our imagination and it can be a source of inspiration or a source of limitation. For a start-up founder, their vision for their business is a powerful source for energising her and her team to their next level of success. However, if she spends her energy doubting her ability to motivate her team into action that will meet the expectations of her investors, that will limit her ability to lead and perform.
Self-judgement focuses on the opposite aspect of time - the past. Leaders & high-achievers are great at assessing the past, learning from their mistakes and moving forward. However, when that spills into judgement, the effects are limiting and unconstructive. A trader who can’t let go of the mistake he made that led to a loss is unlikely to have the confidence needed to make good choices in the present. And similar to the future, the past no longer exists. It is not real but is merely a memory that we hold, filtered to fit the stories and beliefs that we tell ourselves.
Worrying about what may happen and being critical about what we’ve done is not bad in itself. They are perfectly natural feelings especially for ambitious, high-achievers who strive for excellence! However, just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s necessary, especially when they hold you back from accelerating towards your goal.
Presence: the answer to fear and judgement
When you are not present you are neither thinking about the past nor the future. Conversely, when you are unconsciously thinking about the past or the future, you are not present.
A fantastic coach & friend, Deanna Minnick, once described it like this: imagine you have 10 energy balls and they represent your potential for success in every moment. Whatever you put your energy balls towards is where you will reap rewards. When you are fearful of what might happen in the future, you are putting some of those energy balls towards growing that fear. When you judge your past, you are putting some energy balls towards increasing judgement of yourself that ultimately knocks you down. Not only does being a better fearful person and a better judgemental person rarely result in constructive results, but leaves you with fewer energy balls to be successful in what you are trying to achieve right now.
Here are five things you can start doing today to move from Fear and Self-Judgement to Power in the Present
Write a script for your future that motivates you to success. Remember that the future you are worried about is not real. Which means that you have total control in crafting it. The next time you find yourself fearful about your ability to lead, perform, or achieve, imagine that you are a scriptwriter for a movie. Instead of crafting your story into a scary movie that cripples you, re-write it into a success story that inspires and motivates you.
Adopt the following belief: “you cannot make a mistake”. Imagine that you could not make a mistake. How would you show up then? What would you do that you’re not doing? How much would your confidence grow? How fearless would you be?
Accept that your actions in the past made sense then, given who you were, but it does not define who you are now. Remember that the past is also not real. So use it constructively to learn and evolve, and not to unconstructively beat yourself up about a past that you have no control over. Unless, of course, you have a time-travelling machine!
Trust yourself and the process. Once you’ve made a choice, trust that you have made the right choice based on everything that you know. That’s not to say that you can’t change your mind, but until you consciously decide to, believe in your decisions to move forward.
Practice being present. The more you practice anything, the more proficient you become. And that includes practising presence. Try meditation, if it’s your jam. If not, a great way to practice presence is to consciously choose to do so. Pick a task and decide to focus on that task for a set amount of time. When your mind wanders, notice it, accept it (we are human), and then choose to congratulate yourself for noticing and get back to the task at hand (instead of beating yourself up and going down the spiral of doom).
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