When I hear the word ‘armor’ my mind immediately goes to the knights of old who equipped themselves with a suit of metal to protect themselves from the dangers of their profession.
I remember feeling a sense of putting my armor on before each football game. The pads and helmet… I was ready for battle.
It’s easy to think about armoring up when you are playing within the context of a game or battle. But what about armoring up when we aren’t on the field?
The physical need for armor may not be there, but there are other challenges and difficulties that we may need to protect ourselves against on the mental or spiritual front.
Things that shake us up and throw us off our game. Things that make us question why we are doing something or put our values into question.
Are you prepared to protect yourself?
So no matter what you do, where you are, or what your profession may be, are you taking the time to put your armor on?
Each of us are of course unique in terms of what rattles us or knocks us off our game.
Some of us may thrive in stressful situations while others may begin to crumble.
Some may welcome criticism or feedback while others may allow it to rock the foundation of who they are.
And so on…
Whatever our vulnerable points may be, it is important for us to be intentional about armoring up in those areas in order to keep driving towards our goals and measures of success and fulfillment.
The further we progress down our path of development, the more difficult the challenges will become. Much like the progression between pop-warner, high school, college and professional football, the hits will get harder, the speed will get faster, and the competition and stakes will be forever higher.
Here are a few questions to help get the gears turning around where you may need to armor up in your own life:
Are you working out? – You may be an intellectual rock star in your craft, but you need to ensure you are taking care of everything below your head too. Build a fitness routine around physical activity that you enjoy doing. If physically able, find a mix of weight training and cardio that fits your lifestyle and schedule.
How much sleep are you getting? – We are all pushing ourselves and working hard, so it’s equally important that we prioritize time for sleep and recovery. If you aren’t getting 6-8 hours of quality sleep on a consistent basis, I would recommend adjusting your schedule to make that a possibility. We may have the occasional all-nighter or something close to it, but don’t make that the norm. You may be able to handle it now, but over time it will break you down.
Do you have a solid nutrition plan, and are you following it? – Most of us know what we should be eating, but we don’t all follow through on it. We all have big goals and ambitions, but if we aren’t fueling ourselves up with the right kinds of foods, we will burn out and break down. Treat yourself like a high performance vehicle and fuel up with premium fuel. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about dieting – make your nutrition plan a lifestyle and own it!
Mind / Mindset
Are you investing in personal and professional development? – I strongly believe that once we think we know it all, someone is lining up to blind side us. Prioritize time to work on personal and professional development that is aligned with mastering your craft and achieving your goals in all areas of life. Be a lifelong learner!
Are you asking for feedback? – We all have blindspots, but do you have people in your life that are pointing them out? Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to give you the tough feedback – those are the people that will truly help you grow.
Do you have mentors? – Whether formal or informal, do you have people identified in your life that accomplished many of the things you desire for yourself? Find mentors who can help you shorten the path to your destination. Listen, learn and then take action!
Do you have a mindset contingency plan? – When you get rattled, what do you do? Do you spiral into a break down, or do you have contingencies to get your mind right and get back at it? Step away for a quick meditation or some breath work to calm yourself down. Have a mantra prepared that highlights why you are and will continue to be successful and awesome at what you do. Jot down a list of all the things you are grateful for when you feel like nothing is going right. Leverage how ever many tools help you get refocused and back in the game.
Are you fueling up with positive content? – Keep a wealth of motivational and positive content on hand. Whether it’s motivational speeches or videos, positive affirmations, motivational / inspirational podcasts or uplifting music, fuel yourself up with positivity. Stay away from all the negative headlines, talking heads and doom and gloom out there.
Do you have a coach? – Coaches help point out your blindspots and support you in discovering the answers to some of your biggest challenges or setbacks. If you have the means to enlist the support of a coach in the areas of your life where you most want to grow, I highly recommend it!
Are you clear around your why? – Now being crystal clear on what drives you, your mission, vision or purpose will leave you vulnerable to challenging times – when things are going to plan. Having clarity around why you started off on a specific path will give you a deep well of resilience to draw from when things get tough.
Do you have clear and measurable goals? – Nothing creates a feeling of being lost or wandering that working towards poorly defined or fuzzy goals. Take the time to make and commit to SMART goals that leave no room for interpretation or confusion around where or what the goal line is.
Are you clear on your values? – Being crystal clear on what you believe in and value is critical when you are faced with difficult or sometimes even questionable decisions. Having your non-negotiable values top of mind will help you navigate these situations without hesitation and feel great about your decisions after the fact.
Are you surrounding yourself with people that fill you up and give you energy? – Don’t allow a toxic locker room to exist in your life. Find the people in your life that build you up and give you energy, not suck it out of you and point out all the bad stuff going on or all the reasons something won’t work. Prioritize time with those that help you see the opportunities and are invested in your growth and development. When the chips are down, these are the people you will want standing at the ready in your corner.
Are you prioritizing and scheduling down time? – We aren’t machines, therefore we need to make time to shut it down once and a while. Find opportunities to get away and recharge your batteries. It may seem like you are slowing your own momentum, however getting yourself out of your routines may actually spark a new idea to take your game to the next level.
I hope this list of questions sparks some ideas for your own life. Be honest with yourself about where you often trip or stumble in your life and think about how you can start to prepare and armor up to avoid those pitfalls in the future.
Discussion Question: What area of your life do you most need to armor up in? What is one practice you can incorporate to begin to build that armor?
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."