I ran a survey last week to see what people were struggling with the most. To my surprise, stress management came second to performance. Although, in my experience and research, stress and performance are intimately linked (reduce stress, increase performance) I want to address the challenge of low performance with fresh eyes. To that end, I have put together some protocols and strategies to help professionals make best use of their 'free time' during the lock down and improve their daily, weekly, and monthly productivity.
Let's begin with where you are, or where you might be. If you are enduring a pandemic lockdown perhaps you:
Feel an increased burden of responsibility to your team
Feel daily uncertainty
Are re-examining your priorities in life
Have a strong feeling of loneliness
Don't have a clear structure to your day
Lost a sense of purpose and meaning
Family distractions prevent you from maintaining focus
Have a low enthusiasm for work
Are resisting work
Are experiencing stress and anxiety
The list could go on but we don't want to dwell on the challenges. Rather, let's start to explore some solutions that go beyond advice like 'better habits' and develop 'optimal mindsets'.
Define Your Best Future Self
There is a term in psychology and behavioral science known as Temporal Distancing. Put simply, it's the process of imagining ourselves outside of the current situation into a more optimal, future state. As an example, perhaps you are focusing on the inability to find a job or get promoted at this time. Of course, in the short term it is a little daunting and stressful. However, in the long term, rest assured, you WILL find a job and secure a promotion or more income. Taking your thoughts and attention to this place (where you have a great job) creates space for you to relax a little more into the current situation and start to be more creative, innovative and ultimately find more solutions. Long story short, this shift literally changes the way our brain perceives reality and when we change the way we think, we change the way we feel and the way we experience the world.
So, what is an exercise that can help us enter this state more easily? It's called Best Future Self and I use it in coaching and training all the time. Here is how it works:
Find a comfortable position, relax, close your eyes and breathe
Take several deep breathes until your mind and body feel calm
Once settled, being to imagine in great detail WHO you want to be in 6 months
How will you feel? What have you accomplished? Who is in your life?
Take the time to do the exercise properly until the vision of you then is as real as you NOW!
Now, once the vision is alive DON'T stop. Turn the intangible, into the tangible and write down exactly WHAT each day needs to be like in order to become that person. How must you interact with people? What do you need to work on? Where does your energy need to go?
Once this is done, compare this "Ideal" day to the ones you have been experiencing and notice the main contrasts. This will give you a very clear picture on specifically what needs to be addressed, shifted, altered, optimized, modified, etc. This can be visualized simply below:
Focus on Build Outstanding Relationships
If we are going to have a reliable and high value network (family, friends, colleagues, clients) we have to be INTENTIONAL about building it. What does this mean? Well, you need to have a clear idea on WHO you want to be for the most important people in your life. Research has shown that high performers have great social and situational intelligence. They can influence and lead naturally. and effectively build and maintain rapport with the right people. This is NO accident! This comes with training, refinement and practice! So, during times of challenge like lockdown, one EXCELLENT way to spend your energy is by forging and maintaining great relationships.
There are many articles and resources which talk about the 'HOW' of building great relationships. Here I want to focus on the WHY and build some intrinsic motivation to do so. There is no reason, by the end of a month, that you will not have been able to solidify and improve your most important relationships.
Write down the name of each person in your immediate family, social circle and professional network. Keep it to the key players; you know who they are!
Now have some fun. Imagine that in 20 years, each of them is describing why they love and respect you. If each person could summarize in three words the interactions they had with you in life, what would they be? Example: Brad was Kind, Passionate, Loyal.
Take ACTION. Next time you see that person move into the conversation with an intention to embody those three words. Think before you see them about the outcome you'd like to have after you meet. Don't wait. Reach out to one person right after completing this exercise and start making this a reality NOW!
Pick The 2 Skills You Need To Develop and Ruthlessly Develop Them
Each of us has particular field of interest. If your a neurologist, it's the brain. If you're a coach it's personal empowerment. It doesn't have to be professional. Maybe you like fitness or music. Whichever field of interest comes to mind when you read this, is the one that needs the attention. Part of high performance is mastery. In order to master a skill it needs to be specific, applied within a particular field and consistently developed by making time to learn, practice and refine that skill. Let me give you an example:
I am Brad and I am an executive performance, career and wellness coach. I have lots of knowledge and experience around human behavior, psychology, coaching, neuroscience, etc. Unfortunately this is NOT enough for me to become a leader in this field. I need to master two skills in the next 12 months. The first, is marketing. I need to learn to market myself, tell my story, create compelling content, and generate interest in my work and services. The second, is sales! I need to learn how to effectively sell my services, programs and workshops so I can start having the kind of impact on people's lives that I know I can. To that end, I am using most of my learning energy to understand and apply the best concepts and strategies so I can build my dream and empower as many people as I can.
So, ask yourself three questions:
What is my primary field of interest?
What 2 skills do I need to master to become and "A player" in this field
What must I do next to start mastering his skill?
Note, there is special significance to the third question because this is going to set the right tone for your intention, which is to DO!
Outline How You Want To Serve Others
Knowing clearly, WHO it is you are working for (or serving) is a enormous advantage for personal performance improvement; it helps give us a strong sense of purpose. Having others in our mind, takes us away from self-loathing and towards a more positive, future oriented state. It helps with the Best Future Self exercise described before and it has numerous benefits for our physical and mental well-being.
As an exercise you can try the following:
Who am I serving now or who do I want to serve in the future?
What can I do today, to ensure I am able to serve better tomorrow?
How Can I add more value to my life, in order to add more value to theirs?
In what way can I deliver on my promises and obligations with excellence?
Notice, that imbedded in all these questions is the necessity for personal development and empowerment so without question, you will improve personally and professionally. However, the equation does not explicitly serve you, it clear has others in mind so this can be far more motivating and empowering and keep us performing better and developing our cutting edge.
Having read through the above points, I hope you appreciate that this is very much a 'DO' kind of solution. Taking one half or full day, to answer these questions and put them into clear, tangible, measurable goals could GREATLY improve your personal performance during challenges times. When the answers to the above are clear, it's been scientifically proven to improve mental and physical wellbeing, motivation, clarity, energy, relationships, confidence and success. So, don't delay. Use the time you have to think clearly, feel deeply and create a vision for your future that is worth work hard for. Pick a future self that is worth becoming!
If you have any questions, as always, you can contact me, I'd love to talk!