Crisis gets us always off guard. Change does that as well. When we feel like we do not have all the information, we don’t know how and what to plan, because all the plans have blown up by some “random” situation, we feel at loss, mainly at loss off control. I believe that it is important to build your resilience and figure out and train yourself to manage this kind of unpredictability. These skills won’t give you a straight and strategic answer of what to do next in crisis and change, be it COVID, loss of work, anxiety at the final exam or loss of self-confidence because you just lost a game, but they are the skills that will get you to find these answers.
Strategically preparing your performance for change
Elite performers usually prepare for situations where there are unknown factors (for example weather, opponent) and are aware of what they can and cannot control. And that’s what everybody should do and keep in mind in times of “peace” and “calm” – that preparing for crisis is a matter of training. Resilience, being ready to stand the stress and come out of the crisis, a challenge with health and success, is a training. A training you can start now. Reading this post is the first step, practicing the resources I share with you is the next step.
Why am I writing this? Because I myself feel that though the current crisis did not hit me hard, I have always been better at crisis situations, it did mean more energy drain because of the need to realign my work in an instant, because of the amount of zoom calls and because of the extra-extra work I had helping others cope and thrive in this period by quickly getting on top of things as leaders and as teams. That meant back-to-back coaching, total focus on issues at hand and awareness that tomorrow the situation can change and all that was done may become irrelevant. At the beginning I felt amazing, in a flow because this is what I am good at. But as the weeks passed by, I forgot to tune in to myself. Instead, I did less training, I did less of things that nurture my mind and give it some space. Processing huge amounts of information meant that I was not able to listen to myself anymore and slowly my own stamina faded. I felt that I do not have the energy to do breathing exercises, to take time off and to see the big picture from my own perspective. I was even beating myself up about the fact that I got tired by six pm (having woken up 5 am).
But it took time to fully realize I was in trouble. I actually started writing this post a month ago. But I could not finish, because it demanded too much effort. It still does. What has changed is that I have started regular body scan training again; I have started planning for my workouts, but not taking too big steps, because there has been a gap; I am more inquisitive and take my time to decide rather then “let’s start doing everything right now”. I needed to accept that I too get tired, I too need to train my resilience and the fact that I am strong and can do intense work does not mean I don’t get tired nor that it can last forever. So I hope this post and these techniques will help you prepare for next or overcome this crisis and the demands on your mental resilience.
Three techniques to enhance mental fitness
Three resources and techniques I want to share with you are something that I use myself and teach and train with athletes, entrepreneurs and business leaders. I also teach them to military personnel as it is proven that resilience and mental fitness exercises are helping people who are constantly in higher risk, meet bigger challenges and are in high performance fields to stay focused and do better decisions. And that’s what the exercises are for:
a) getting back to focus,
b) realizing what you can control and what you can’t,
c) and from the information you have, make better choices.
3 techniques to get back (or prepare) mental performance are
PS: In no way is this a comprehensive list, plus, you will need training. It takes time so do not judge the tool after one or two tries. If you want to be sure you use them fully, contact me for a reasonable and effective mental performance gameplan.
- ACCEPT. This is the situation (describe it neutrally). Whenever something happens, something changes that we did not know, could not plan for and is not what we would like, it creates a confrontation in us. As long as we are focusing on fighting with the facts (things have changed) and ruminate around that thought (why, why me, why this, why now?) and if this is not really giving any answers nor ways to move forward, we are stuck. We might not ever be ok with what happened, it might have had a bad result for us, but ACCEPTING the fact (it happened) is the best thing we can do to move on. Why? Because then we have the head-space to start finding solutions, next (small) steps, seeing it as challenge, learning about our own strengths. So what does it mean? It means seeing the facts as they are, not better not worse.
- Body scan. Yes, taking time to notice what is going on in your body. This is an amazing tool that I have been using for a year now. This seems probably so simple that many discard it as a tool, but trust me, it will give you the extra moment you need to create head-space. THEN you can start making decisions. To start, check out this video I use to do body scan
3. A good routine and a gameplan. In times of change it feels like the last thing we can do is make fixed plans. Everything can change in a heartbeat. Or there’s just so much to do. If you want to keep yourself in good fit, still sleep and have time to think and recuperate, you need to know what is on your plate, also, to make room for yourself to not make so many decision at every moment, but know and stick to the plan as much as possible. A good plan starts with figuring out what is important in the first place (work, family, the NOW or things for creating a future). Secondly it is about reasonable time-allotment. To leave enough time for things we need to do and understand that some things will not be managed so will, or cannot be perfect, because we honestly do not have the time. And that’s ok. It will not be “your fault”. So get your calendar out, plan your day, leave slots for unpredictability and for resting. If you want to be in the game for a longer time, do not deplete yourself today. Your life is a long-haul trip even though it might not feel like one at times.
I want to finish this post with making sure you understand that you have more power over your well-being then may be visible to you. That your lack of current performance, lowering energy levels, being unsure can be all quite normal. We cannot work 100% all the time, we should not do that. What we can do is have an attitude that things are what they are and we can learn to constantly feel better, take steps to enjoy what we do and find meaning from it. This is where elite performance comes from: small steps towards learning to do your skill, your sport, your work in a new, more satisfying way. Mental skills training helps you here immensely. And everyone can do it and should do it.
Let me know if you use some of these steps and how they worked. What are your tools for focus and a clearer head?
Let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.