In life as in sports, we spend most of our time practicing and putting in the reps to be ready when it’s time to perform. It’s that time and hard work that allows us to EXECUTE in the moment rather than thinking through the steps and mechanics of the task at hand.
It makes it possible to put ourselves in the position to flip that switch. The switch that takes us out of the normal pace of our day and dials us into the big game, big meeting, big sales call – flipping the switch puts us in a new and powerful state of mind
Personally, nothing speaks more to this than when it was time to mentally prepare right before a football game. All week long as a team we prepared for this single game. We went through every detail of what we were going to do and what we thought our opposition would do so that when game day rolled around we would be ready to roll.
When it came time to get dressed in the locker room and go through pregame warm up, time started to slow.
Once I was dressed – usually through a process of putting the same things on in the same order each each week (a mediation in its own right) – I focused on intentional and slow breathing to create a clear mind and a pure focus on what was about to happen.
It was as if a fog rolled in over everything else around me. No more thinking of what needed to be done – just time to BE and time to DO.
Getting ready to walk out onto the field became almost an out of body experience. Back then, I didn’t even realize I was doing anything. Yet each week the noise around me faded away and then it was time – no more thinking, just ACTION.
I flipped that switch moments before the ball was kicked off and all that followed was pure joy – pure immersion in one moment after another.
Redefine ‘Game Time’
As many of us transition from the sports field to a different ‘playing field’ in our professional lives we must redefine what constitutes our practices and games.
For me as a project manager, my games became my ‘gate reviews’ where I need to justify to stakeholders why my project should be a project, whether we are ready to move from planning to execution, execution to deployment, etc.
Admittedly this is nowhere near as exciting to me as a football game. However, it is my time to perform and WIN in my current role. The project team relies on me to move the project forward, and my management chain relies on me to keep things moving to successfully execute against the organization’s strategy. If I fail, we all fail.
The important thing is not ‘what’ my game time is now but rather that I’ve defined it and can build my process to flip the switch and be ready to go. As I progress in my career my game time will change yet the process and ritual will build a foundation to keep performing at a high level for each higher stakes game I need to play.
Once you define your game day it is time to put yourself into a state of mind to dominate and win that game.
I’ve incorporated the following steps to set my internal stage (or mental locker room) to create the dialed in frame of mind to flip that switch and perform:
- Close your eyes and calm your inner athlete through controlled breathing to put yourself into a base state of pregame preparation
- Repeat to yourself why you will WIN through practiced mantras – use these to ERASE any doubts creeping around your head space because you’ve done all the preparation you need to execute and perform – this preparation is from practice – for me it is all the knowledge and familiarity I’ve built up from project meetings and all of the PowerPoint reviews and rehearsals before the actual presentation
- Visualize the victory to obtain the victory – picture yourself executing at your highest possible level in your game and visually experience the positive reactions or outcomes that you want to create – I picture people around the table nodding in agreement and providing their verbal approval for me to proceed before I walk in the room
- Open your eyes and BE in a moment of complete freedom from the ‘self’ – see yourself outside of your body as you are, and let the world around you melt away to create a freedom from of any worry, stress, or doubt
Finally FLIP THAT SWITCH and GO! This ‘switch’ should be specific to you – it could be something you say to yourself, touching a ‘lucky’ or meaningful object, listening to a song, etc. Embrace the potential fun of creating your switch and then FLIP IT!
What is your big game at this current stage of your life? Which item from the pre-game routine speaks most to you? If you already have a pre-game routine, do you incorporate any other tools that allow you to dial in and flip that switch when it’s time for the big game?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."