Trust Yourself In Consequential Moments

Xperience Growthblogposts

It happened to me this month.

I woke up one morning with a wave of anxiety about an upcoming presentation later in the day. That does not happen often or if ever to me. If anything, I’m excited about the days I present.

Something was different that day. I felt off. I questioned the materials that I was planning to share. Questioned if it would hit home with the audience as I intended it to. I didn’t trust myself in those early morning hours, even though I prepared for the moment.

How often do we find ourselves in consequential moments and fall back on our fears rather than leaning into our confidence? Most often for us, it doesn’t show up as a full blown panic attack or crippling anxiety. Yet, it’s this acute uncomfortableness that leads to not trusting ourselves. If unchecked, that lack of trust will kill the quality of what we do. We’ll hold back. We’ll be too much in our heads. We won’t get into a flow state. Our results will suffer.

Major League Baseball player Jake Fraley talks about his protocol when he experiences a tough moment when he’s hitting. As he says, it happens all the time in baseball. A swing-and-miss or a bad call by the umpire can throw a hitter off their game mentally, which significantly reduces the likelihood of a positive at bat.

Fraley talks about a “release” mechanism that he created to help him lock back in and return to his self trust and confidence. It involves breathing, focal points, kinesthetic actions with his batting gloves, mantras. He does all that in the span of seconds.

What he’s doing is letting go of the negative spin in head after a failed attempt. He uses a distant focal point and mantra to help him let go of the negative thought pattern. Then he quickly uses the re-strapping of his batting gloves and another mantra to get him back in his peak performance state where he’s ready for the following pitch.

I worked with an executive that had similar difficulty in meetings with their team. They are a great leader who knows 2 things. They could take full control of the pieces of the project, grit their teeth and drag it across the finish line themselves. However, that approach leaves their team in the dust to clean-up any loose ends. Or, they could reserve patience as their team learns & grows to become more dynamic & capable. Obviously the 2nd approach is more productive for the long game, yet it’s tough for a really high performing leader to allow it to play out.

This executive found themselves losing patience in meetings with their team and resorted to branding them as a bunch of low performers. The team didn’t pick-it-up as quickly as my client thought they should. In reality, as my client pointed out, they needed to work through the learning process so that they could gather the skills to drive the project as it rolled out company wide.

I taught my client to use a focal point exercise to release the frustration and help stop the unhelpful narrative in their head. Once they were able to come back to more of an equilibrium, I had them use a kinesthetic movement to help reorient to a peak state of confident leadership. That one-two punch allowed them to guide the team without taking the full reins and rob them of the growth – while hitting the deadline with a superior product.

You’ll notice the similarities between the baseball player and the executive. Both extremely capable in their abilities. Both getting thrown off their mental game in a consequential moment. Both using a routine and skill sets to release the negative feelings & spinning and get back into a mentally powerful state.

The morning of the presentation when the wave of anxiety hit me, I was prepared for the presentation. My mind was telling me otherwise; that I had to spend more time on it. The anxiety was talking and I realized it.

Even though it was tough to do, I used my breath to calm down my nervous system. I used a mental image technique to neutralize the feeling of anxiety. I completed my mental transformation that morning with a yoga practice, which I was talking myself out of doing before letting go of the angst. Yoga for me is equal parts mindfulness and body awareness practice. It forces me to get into the present moment and feel it in my body.

Those strategies and techniques completely blew up any anxiety that I felt. I made a more solid plan for the presentation that gave me more control of the topic and I returned to my typical excited self prior to presenting.

It went well! Lot’s of engagement and insights shared by the participants. I credit the success of that presentation to my ability to regain my self-trust in consequential moments.