For entrepreneurs, tips and tricks on high-performance and how to be more efficient and effective are just a click away. We can access everything from funding sources, to marketing ideas, to sleep software, to time-management tools.
Personally, I can get so caught up in self-improvement hacks that the resources intended to streamline my business actually consume more time and energy than they save. I can easily fall down a rabbit hole, reading mindfulness articles and watching book-launch webinars, to the point where I lose the balance between improving my work and actually doing my work.
Ironically, I was attending an online conference recently when I came across a helpful question to highlight what exactly is needed, on a project-by-project basis, to do my best work. During the recent Mindfulness in America Summit, the high performance psychologist for the Seattle Seahawks--who also coaches CEOs on leadership-- shared that the team's entire culture is centered around the goal of "helping people find their very best."
In order to help the players find and become their very best, high-performance psychologist Michael Gervais said he consistently asks the Seahawks players two questions: "What is supporting you to be your best, and what is getting in the way of you being your best?"
I'm particularly interested in the last question, as the answer provides a direct route to putting in place whatever supports we need to bring our best selves to our best work.
So let's look deeper into that question.
"What is getting in the way of you being your best?"
Part of mindfulness training involves seeing obstacles as opportunities for self inquiry. Rather than viewing a difficult person or circumstance as blocking our path, we can take a look at how that particular challenge might be calling us to evolve in a way that will ultimately help us move forward with a higher awareness of who we are and what we need.
We can identify the problem, and find a solution that helps us grow. So, I ask you, what's getting in the way of you being your best?
Say, for example, there's a difficult conversation you need to have with a co-worker. It's hanging over your head and killing your productivity. Rather than continuing to avoid it, you can use this technique to feel where it's causing tension in your body, and choose to begin that conversation with compassion, knowing it will free you both to move forward.
Or say your realize that your cluttered desk is making it harder to organize your thoughts. You can use this feng shui technique to clear your space and your mind, and pave the way for better productivity.
Or maybe you struggle with perfectionism. Once you become aware that this is holding you back from plowing through your current project, you can give yourself permission to do a lousy first draft, reminding yourself that no one but you needs to see it. Or you can use this technique to embrace and overcome your fear of not being perfect.
Full disclosure: I've struggled with all of the above.
Once you identify what's standing in the way, it can help show you the way.
Ask your kids, too.
Like most mindfulness techniques, this is a useful tool for helping kids explore their inner landscape and develop more agency. It's also a great way for us to learn more about them. And to learn from them.
Whenever I try out these techniques on my teenage son, I am always pleasantly surprised at his level of self awareness. This exercise was no exception. I asked him what he thinks might be holding him back from doing his best work or being his best self. "Comparing myself to other people," he answered. I'd honestly never even realized this was an issue with him.
I followed up by asking what he sees as the solution, and he said: "Focusing on what I am good at, instead of what other people are good at."
Out of the mouths of babes. It was a great reminder for me, as well.
Check in with your employees.
During the Mindfulness in America Summit, Seahawks high-performance psychologist Michael Gervais said that head coach Pete Carroll asks each player how he can help them be their best.
As entrepreneurs, we already have the desire and drive to learn and grow. As the leader of a team, try asking your employees what's getting in the way of them performing at the top of their game. And offer to help find solutions.
Whether it's your family or your workforce, supporting each team member to identify and work through what's standing in their way, can go a long way toward creating a winning culture.