Performance undelivered

performanceLast week I spoke to a professional sports team. During the Q&A portion, one of the athletes asked me which was worse during the game –  thinking about what happened earlier or thinking about what needs to happen next. My response was both – as both would keep you from being fully focused on the present moment where he would need to be at his absolute best to get the most out of his skills. 

The workplace is no different and perhaps even worse. If last month, our idea was shot down in a meeting, all too often we become more cautious before sharing the next idea thinking about the consequences of another rejection. This redirects our neuropathways to the negative memory bank, subconciously in most cases, so that our brain can contextualize the risk or threat to us – emotionally, financially, politically, etc. These threats can only be processed by the context we alone have based solely on our own negative past memories, not by an actual independent arbitrator. If there are more negative memories similar to the current challenge, then chances are the risk assessment will be much higher than for someone else experiencing the identical challenge but perhaps does not have much of a negative memory. It is more likely for the latter person to have a positive outcome for no reason other than he simply was not as afraid, not because his idea was any better than the other person’s. Lay people call this ‘scar tissue’ or ‘past baggage’ and they play in major role in our ability to be fully present and be our best when it matters most.
This week, as you face a challenge at work, a point in a meeting perhaps where you find yourself evaluating your risk/threat level to say/do something, consider what past memories are causing you to be so cautious. They are real of course but are they keeping you from being your best in the critical moments of your performance? For most people, the answer is a definitive “yes!” And if so, then you alone are your biggest threat to your performance.

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