Advance Leadership

by Rich Bishop – Stop accepting mediocre!

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How to Find Competitive Calm in the Spotlight

How to Find Competitive Calm in the Spotlight | Advance Leadership by Rich BishopThere were just a few seconds left, and the opponent was on the verge of scoring to win one of the biggest sporting events of the year. The end seemed inevitable. The crowd knew exactly what was about to happen. The millions watching at home knew it, too. Everyone expected the game to come to an end on the next play. They just didn’t see this coming…

The offense lined up with the ball in a formation that Malcolm had seen before. In fact, he had practiced defending a play that looked like this countless times… and was burned every time. He knew in his heart what was coming next and wasn’t about to be burned this time, even though millions of people watching were expecting it. Nerves can stop anyone’s body from performing the way they expect. Would the spotlight be too much for this rookie?

When the ball was snapped, Malcolm was calm because he thought he knew what was coming next. He sprinted to the spot where he had practiced for the last few days. If he was right, he might have a shot at stopping what seemed to be an inevitable touchdown. A few steps into his sprint, he wasn’t surprised when the ball was fired right to where he was going. He leapt into the air and felt the ball hit his chest. He held on for dear life as he was hit immediately. He hoped he could just hang on…

 

Last week, we introduced you to the idea that preparation, experience, and focus create a competitive calm that separates a great performer from a good one. We’re using the illustration of sports, but this is just as relevant in your business as it is on the football field. Have you ever been thrust into the spotlight? Maybe you’ve been asked to present a critical topic in front of an influential group or a potential customer at work. When the spotlight is on, your level of competitive calm will determine whether you flop or flourish.

Experience

Experience is a major contributor to your ability to generate competitive calm. Experience is actually the best kind of preparation, because it’s much easier psychologically to draw on past experiences in the spotlight than it is to rely on practice alone.

Your brain build muscle memory just like your other muscles do. When you first start to run, it may feel awkward and you may struggle to make it very far. However, continuing to run over time will make your muscles become accustomed to the motion and will make running easier. The same is true in big-time situations at work. The more you are in it, the easier it gets.

Focus

Focus is another area that can create competitive calm. Our brain goes into a state of hyper-focus when pressure is put on us, but too often we use that focus on the wrong things. We have to ask ourselves, “What is the most important thing to focus on?” Without asking that question, our brains will focus on what’s most familiar rather than what’s important.

What do you focus on when times are stressful? Psychological studies on focus have been conducted over the years that all point to the same answer – we will create what we focus on, both good and bad. Have you ever heard the comment, “don’t look down” if you’re standing at a height? If you focus on what’s below, your body will subconsciously work to move in that direction. The same is true for your business goals. If you focus on what could go wrong, then something inevitably will. (Important note here – having contingencies for things going wrong in a plan and focusing on things going wrong are two totally different things!)

Don’t believe the power that focus has on your body? Try this little experiment:

On a blank piece of paper, draw two lines crossing from one end of the paper to the other like a giant plus sign. Then draw a circle around the center about 6 inches wide. Next, take a paper clip and tie it to the bottom of a string about 6-10 inches long. Place the paper on the floor. Rest your elbow on your knee and hold the string between your thumb and forefinger with the paper clip over the center of the crossing lines. Focus on the paper, and in your mind, picture the paper clip moving along the line that goes from top to bottom. Hold your arm and hand completely still. Simply focus on the paper and imagine the clip moving back and forth along the line. What happens?

Next, do the same thing along the line going from side to side. Then, imagine the clip moving around the circle. What happens? Try to tell yourself “the clip is NOT going to go up & down along the first line.” Say it to yourself over and over again. Does it make a difference if you say something will happen or won’t happen?

Now do you believe in the power of focus?

 

Malcolm Butler not only had the preparation that allowed him to defeat the Seahawks’ attempt to win Super Bowl XLIX, but he had the experience of being in the spotlight all season. When the Patriots needed him to step into big situations, he did. His focus was outstanding in the world-wide spotlight too.

As he fell to the ground, all he could do was think, “Hold on. Just hold on.”. He knew that if he could just grasp the football all the way to the ground, that the Patriots were going to pick up their fourth Super Bowl victory. When he reached the ground, his teammates picked him up in celebration realizing that they had just done the improbable. The Seahawks were inside the Patriots 10 yard line with seconds left on the clock, and Butler had shattered their dreams of an inevitable last-second win. The competitive calm that Butler demonstrated in the biggest moment of any football player’s career shows that big things can happen in big situations when you exercise your competitive calm.

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What Separates Great Leaders from Great Doers?

What Separates Great Leaders from Great Doers | Advance Leadership by Rich BishopThere were just a few seconds left, and the opponent was on the verge of scoring to win one of the biggest sporting events of the year. The end seemed inevitable. The crowd knew exactly what was about to happen. The millions watching at home knew it, too. Everyone expected the game to come to an end on the next play. They just didn’t see this coming…

Every day, leaders in business are put under pressure to win just like leaders on the sports field. There are deadlines to meet and goals to achieve if they expect the company to be a winner. Just like in sports, business leaders have to manage complex plays by their competitors and stakeholders in order to stay ahead. Emerging leaders show a knack for getting things done. The most productive employees are often the ones that get the most opportunities to advance. Chances are that you’ve seen the golden child of the organization… the one that rises quickly from one rank to the next because they can produce at a high level. But being a great doer only gets you a chance to be in the spotlight. You still have to execute under pressure.

The offense lined up with the ball in a formation that Malcolm had seen before. In fact, he had practiced defending a play that looked like this countless times… and was burned every time. He knew in his heart what was coming next and wasn’t about to be burned this time, even though millions of people watching were expecting it. Nerves can stop anyone’s body from performing the way they expect. Would the spotlight be too much for this rookie?

Competitive Calm

What separates great leaders from great doers is competitive calm – the ability to stay calm and perform under pressure. Stress and pressure on your body makes it go into a flight-or-flight mode. Extra testosterone and adrenaline shoots through our bodies and activates certain biological responses that help us in times of need. Picture the caveman being chased by the saber-tooth tiger – every little boost was needed. That caveman (or cavewoman) still lives in you today!

Competitive calm comes from preparation, experience, and focus.

Preparation

Preparation allows you to anticipate what’s next and helps you to keep the situation in perspective. This new perspective calms us in times of stress. Athletes practice plays over and over again so they can overcome that fight-or-flight mode even when the spotlight is on. Being confident in what is coming next helps reduce the stress that the body is feeling. When the spotlight is on you, do you get nervous, or does your performance suffer or reach another level?

When the ball was snapped, Malcolm was calm because he thought he knew what was coming next. He sprinted to the spot where he had practiced for the last few days. If he was right, he might have a shot at stopping what seemed to be an inevitable touchdown. A few steps into his sprint, he wasn’t surprised when the ball was fired right to where he was going. He leapt into the air and felt the ball hit his chest. He held on for dear life as he was hit immediately. He hoped he could just hang on…

Preparation is a critical component to competitive calm, but it’s not the only one. Next week, we’ll look at the importance that experience and focus had on Malcolm’s play. Understanding it could just be the difference between you getting that promotion or being stuck in the same position.

In the meantime, ask yourself:

  • Am I fully prepared to reach my next goal?
  • Do I know exactly what is needed in order to reach that goal?
  • Have I anticipated what could go wrong in pursuing that goal?
  • If you have a major presentation coming, have you rehearsed it for at least 5 time the length of the presentation? For example, if you have a 10 minute time spot, have you prepped for at least 50 minutes? It may seem like overkill, but this is the type of preparation that separates great leaders from great doers.

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4 Simple Steps to Creating Lasting Change in 2016

4 Simple Steps to Creating Lasting Change in 2016There’s a lot of hype around the beginning of every New Year. If you haven’t heard enough about resolutions and changing habits yet, then you’re going to hear that message more than political ads in November! People pushing weight loss products, healthier eating, smoking cessation, and so many others will be in your face constantly. Most will claim to have the answer to a “new you” in 2016. The truth is that they don’t provide anything that you need for a “new you” – you already have it inside of you. You just need to find a way to bring it out.

Most of the time you don’t need to create new habits, you just need to do your day-to-day better. You don’t need some new “amazing” product; you just need to find your own discipline. Change and success happen in small doses on a daily basis. There is no such thing as a “quick fix”! You aren’t going to lose 30 pounds by walking on some new treadmill for only 15 minutes a day. No success comes without a daily, laser-focused discipline. If you aren’t willing to commit to that, then save your money and don’t bother jumping on the Resolution Bandwagon in January!

But if you are truly committed to success in 2016, here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Stay focused on what’s important
    No matter what your goals are – whether it be weight loss, healthier habits, more time spent with the family, or financial / career goals – it’s easy to become distracted. There will always be something that seems more pressing that needs your attention. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted! Stay focused on your goal every day. Remind yourself often of what truly is important. For example, you can create a vision board or leave reminders for yourself to see every day on your mirror.
  2. Do something every day to make progress
    You’ve heard the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” If your goals can be completed in one day then they aren’t big enough! You will only reach your goals if you set at least a little bit of time aside every day to make some small steps. There are going to be days when it is hard and you will have other things to do. If you stay focused on what’s important, then you can make small steps every day.
  3. Stretch yourself
    It’s human nature to fall into a routine. Routines help us to have predictability in our schedules and help our brains to save energy. If you want to achieve something different that you haven’t done before, then routine can be your enemy! New routines can be good because they help you put new behaviors in place more quickly, but relying on those routines alone is a recipe for mediocrity. You’re not looking for mediocre, you’re looking for excellence! Challenge yourself to do more – make bigger steps toward your goal every X weeks. Stretch the progress within your routine to make big progress toward your finish line. “Slow and steady” may win the race, but you sometimes have to sprint too…
  4. Surround yourself with support
    The people closest to you will determine how you succeed. They will either motivate and challenge you, or they will discourage you from achieving what you’ve set out to do. Surround yourself with challengers. Spend more time with people who understand and support what you’re trying to do. Meet with them weekly over lunch or coffee for progress and accountability updates. Ask them how to get past challenges that you encounter or how to make more progress. As you’re spending more time around the encouragers in your life, drop the discouragers! This can be tough because discouragers could be your closest friends. If your goal is that important, don’t you want to spend time with those that will help you get there?

Don’t waste your time with silly resolutions! Create lasting change with these 4 simple steps!

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