As you work to build and grow your business, there are often many obstacles and challenges that stand in your way. For many of us, the biggest obstacle we have to overcome in our quest to reach our business goals stares back at us as we look in the mirror each day: ourselves.
Whether it's procrastination, low self-awareness, lack of consistency, poor productivity, self-limiting beliefs, or something else, there are a number of internal struggles we can all fall prey to, that can keep us from showing up and performing at our best.
This challenge doesn't just plague business owners. It is a battle anyone trying to perform at a high-level has to fight.
Last month Serena Williams played in the US Open Finals. She lost in straight sets. Williams is no stranger to grand slams, she's won 23 over the course of her illustrious career. But she's lost six of her last seven grand slam finals appearances.
When speaking about her latest loss at the US Open, Williams noted, "I honestly didn't play my best today. I could have played better...I honestly don't think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in grand slam finals."
If you struggle at times to get the best version of yourself to show up each day, try implementing these three steps.
1. Acknowledge your weak points.
You've got to name your kryptonite. Only then will you be able to figure out how to combat against it. Spend some time thinking about the activities you find yourself doing that may make you feel like, you're being productive, but are really just busywork that isn't actually helping you make any meaningful progress forward.
I've noticed that my weak points are social media, reading email newsletters, and cleaning up my email. Doing these activities make me feel like I'm getting work done, but in most instances, they have been masks that have prevented me from doing the real work needed to help me perform at my best.
When I notice I'm spending a ton of time on these tasks, I've learned to recognize that means I'm just procrastinating.
2. Uncover the root cause.
Peel back the layers to understand what is at the source of you operating in a manner that doesn't serve you. Whether its shame, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of stepping out of your comfort zone or something else, you've got to address the problem at its source, so you can overcome it once and for all.
Soon after I started my business, I spent weeks procrastinating by watching every episode of Sex and the City. One of my girlfriends found out and called me out on it. When I took the time to dig into what was fueling my behavior, I realized I was afraid. Once I stared my fear in the face, I was able to move forward and get to work.
As I look back at times when I've struggled the most with showing up at my best, it's been during transitional points in my career and business. Armed with that information, I can better guard against it.
3. Put systems in place.
Trick yourself if you need to, but set yourself up for success by making it as unlikely as possible that you don't show up.
For me, that means accountability. External deadlines, having to report on progress to peers, or working with a team that is counting on me to show up with my part done on time are ways that I've found work to keep me on task.
For some that comes by performing rituals daily that signal to their brain, it's time to get into a certain zone. In The Mundanity of Excellence, researcher Dan Chambliss explored what separated Olympic swimmers from everyone else. One of his key findings was that the Olympians approached each practice and each swim-meet with the same attitude and work ethic. In essence, they formed the mental and physical habits and rituals that allowed them to get into optimal performance-mode with ease every time they showed up to perform a task, whether it be lifting weights, swimming practice laps, or performing in the Olympics.
Experiment as needed to find what works best for you. The key is to not rely on your willpower or your emotions, as they often prove to be faulty sources of support.
You have too much to offer to squander your time and potential by not performing at your best. If you find yourself more often than you'd like struggling to achieve your goals or make meaningful progress, pause and take time to figure out how to overcome any mental struggles that stand in your way, so you can overcome them once and for all.