How much do you consciously prepare for performance? In other words, to what degree do you leave your performance to chance?
At Axialent, we emphasize that one of the main levers to achieve extraordinary and sustainable success is to take full responsibility for how we respond in the moment. Specifically, we highlight the importance of enhancing our capacity to have a conscious response to what the moment demands from us as opposed to reacting from unconscious instinct and conditioning.
When we manage to do this on a consistent basis, we tend to feel empowered as a key player in our own lives instead of experiencing ourselves as a victim of circumstances. And because we’re focused on what we can do to get the desired results, we’re more likely to get the results we’re after.
This requires a mindset that can discern between what we can influence and have control over and what we can’t. It also means that we recognize the consequences of our own action and inaction. Obviously, developing expertise, skill and competence is also necessary, and they are important elements of performance.
We can work on developing our self-awareness so that we’re more conscious of how best to respond at any moment. This is a skill, and it’s one that gets stronger, just like a muscle when we train it properly.
We can learn communication models that help us express ourselves in a more productive way. We can train ourselves to become better negotiators and influencers. There’s a reason many organizations have dedicated learning and development departments. There is knowledge to acquire and there are skills to develop that help us. But these alone may not be enough for consistent high performance.
What I find is an often-neglected element of setting ourselves up for success—in addition to developing a certain mindset and skills—is specifically preparing for optimal vitality and brain performance.
For example, you may prepare for a difficult conversation by getting some coaching and doing some role-playing, but what about your energy, focus and mindset? What do you do to make sure those are in their optimum states so that you’re more likely to have the mental clarity, patience and necessary vitality to perform?
Have you ever noticed that you tend to be less patient and accepting when you’re tired? In fact, you’re more than likely to notice yourself being more irritable and reactive when you have low energy.
When was the last time you made some mistakes and performed less than optimal because you were tired?
Have you ever experienced your brain feeling like cotton or like it was in a fog—your mind seemingly dull? How did that impact your performance? Did you still have the impact you would have liked to have?
When you experience fatigue, difficulty focusing and lack of mental clarity, there are a few things to check for.
Perhaps you were simply dehydrated. Dehydration leads to brain fog and fatigue. In contrast, showing up to a meeting well hydrated improves your brain performance and energy levels.
If you lead a team meeting, you can raise the team’s performance simply by making sure there’s plenty of water available for everyone. Encourage people to hydrate and create a culture in which it’s easy to do so.
Another important factor that determines both physical and mental performance is sleep. Taking responsibility for your performance means making sure you get enough good quality sleep.
When you know you’re sleep deprived, find opportunities to do power naps. Research has shown this helps to offset some of the effects of lack of sleep.
And, of course, your nutrition has a big impact on how you feel, how much energy you have available, the resilience of your immune system and your brain performance.
Find out what nutritional approach is best for your individual constitution. Meet up with a nutritional consultant and create a plan so that what, when and how you eat is part of your plan for success.
Finally, make sure you get enough movement throughout the day. Your body is designed to move, so move!
Being a leader means taking unconditional responsibility for your performance. It is not only about how you respond in the moment. It also means that you anticipate and prepare for challenges and your ability to respond to them by planning for optimum hydration, sleep, nutrition and movement.
Keep these things in mind as you prepare for your next important event and set yourself up for success!