Managing Monologues

I think it was my Dad who told me, long before I was ready to understand what he was saying, that the quality of my friends was very important. One adage even suggests: You can judge a man by the company he keeps. Our friends, our work colleagues, our family, and other people we engage with determine to a very large extent the quality of the dialogue between us and them.

I can see how if I choose to engage with someone who has a way of looking at things with the proverbial half-empty lens, then that might bring my emotions and energy level down too. If I chose to have friends who did drugs, I am sure rationalizing drug use would be part of the dialogue. Conversely, if I chose to associate myself with high energy and high achieving folks, the dialogues might be quite positive and energizing. All this is not particularly insightful… most of you already know this.

But what about the monologues we have with ourselves? You know, when it’s just you and you. Whether it’s during the morning drive or the few minutes before you go fall asleep or whenever. These conversations are just as important as the dialogues.

It is an exchange of thoughts and ideas, even though the exchange is happening within the same person. This past weekend, I ran a half-marathon in preparation for a half-IronMan I will hopefully attempt in October. As many of you know, I do triathlons and have grown to love this endurance sport. As you get better, it’s the distances of each segment (swim, run, bike) that you can increase. During my ½ Marathon, it was very cold, very windy, and very hilly. I was running to my favorite playlist and had awesome tunes in my ear. Nonetheless, I found myself in a 2-hour monologue. The conversations ranged from self-deprecating and despondent to very motivated and highly energized. You all already know this.

What you may not know is this; because of the conditions and before the race even begun, I had already told myself that my goal of completing under 2 hours was likely shot. It got validated very quickly because of the incessant hills and head winds. However, what I did very well was monitor my EQ – mostly by the quality of the monologues I was having.

It was no coincidence that when the monologues were not positive, my form was off and awareness of all the metrics I had trained on (pace, distance, time, etc.) was very low. After the first couple of miles, I decided to be in charge of the topics of my monologues. I made a mental list of all of the positive topics – things I enjoy thinking about and processing. I also decided to recollect recent successes in my life and a few past ones. I decided to think about some very important people in my life and some old friends I had not thought of. I thought in particular of a recent running lesson I had with my coach, Heather, and the form she kept yelling at me to maintain, especially as I got tired. All these positive associations to memories let me to dictate the quality of my monologue. Not only did I shock myself by finishing under 2 hours in those conditions, I actually had an amazing time with my monologues. I really enjoyed it.

If you are a working professional, monitor the quality of your monologues especially before a big meeting or an occasion when you need to perform at your best. Use this self-awareness to measure your EQ. If you’re an athlete, whether individual or team, do the same. Give a grade to the quality of the monologues you have with yourself using the same measures for the grade as though you were grading a dialogue with someone else. I guarantee you that the better monologues you have, the better you will perform. Change your monologues by associating positive experiences and people to topics you enjoy. Have fun monologing this week by choosing your topics.

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