Monday, May 17, 2010

Put Your Game Face On!

We all have seen the images of football players in the locker room psyching themselves up, the Olympic athletes waiting beyond the starting line staring into space visualizing what it is they are about to do, the musicians who stand tall and breathe deeply before walking out on stage, or the public speakers that pace in the back hallway sipping water and saying key phrases out loud.

No matter what activity a top performer is preparing to do, there is one thing that is certain, when it is time to perform, they have their “game faces on”.

What do I mean by “game face”? It is the look of readiness that is appropriate for the activity. It could be a focused stoic look. It could be a look of aggression. It could even be a smile and a spring in one’s step. Whatever expression says “I am focused and living in the now.”

When people hear the term “game face”, most people think of professional athletes. But it could be anybody in any activity: athletics, business, recreation or even being with your family.

Anyone can put on a game face. If you wake up in the morning, you can put it on.

I used to coach age group swimming in high school and college. In high school, I would have swim practice in the morning, go to school during the day, go straight into the after school swim practice and THEN coach age group swimming in the evening. Sure, I was in high school and youthful, but after swimming 3-5 miles that day and going to classes all day all one wants to do is eat and go to sleep. But, you can’t. You have to put on a happy energetic coaching face because you are helping mold the lives and experiences of young children who look up to you and see you as an authority figure. If you don’t give these children your all and act the way you feel, then you are undermining not only your experience, but their experiences. And, a funny thing happens when you act like you are having fun and have energy….. you actually have fun and experience energy!

The same goes in business. Some days are naturally going to be worse than others. You may be under the weather, or you may have had a bad night’s sleep, or it may just be a gloomy day with a impending unwanted meeting coming up. Rather than acting grumpy, gloomy, or sour, why not throw on a smile and add a positive tone in your voice. When the phone rings, pick it up and smile when you talk. You will be surprised how much better you feel! You may think that you are acting or not being authentic, this isn’t true. It is simply a way to snap you out of negative behaviors and turn it into positive behaviors. Both behaviors are authentic. YOU just get to CHOOSE which you want to HAVE.

Most importantly, you can and should use this with your family. After a long hard day, of course you just want to eat and settle into a quiet place in your home, or on special occasions or holidays you feel like you need to eliminate stress and decompress. Rather than doing that, put on your “game face” and interact with your family and friends. I use this with my wife and my boys and it never fails when I do. I feel better and the boys get to play with daddy and my wife gets 100% of me. It is a win-win. It is better than if I hid in a mental cave in my own home and wasted away precious moments that I could be having with them.

Even the absolute worst game face is better than the best grumpy or crabby face.

Whether you are stepping out on stage, or walking through the family front door, put on your game face. Try it! You will feel better and everyone around you will feel better. You will be able to live in the moment and be fully engaged in the experience with those around you. Get your game face on and enjoy life!

Friday, April 16, 2010



What is it that you love to do that you wish you could make money at? What would that kind of life look like? How much more balance would you experience in your life? Would you have more time to be with family and friends? Do you think you would have more energy if you were doing something you enjoyed every day? Wouldn’t you feel more alive?

Actually ask yourself these questions. Imagine if you were guaranteed success. Dream for a moment and write those things down.

Let’s think about those dreams now. You would be doing something you enjoy doing that allowed you to live a good life. Work wouldn’t seem so much like work. It would feel like a hobby. Every morning would greet you with the joy of the new day of doing what YOU want. Your relationships would benefit from that joy. Your health would benefit from decreased stress. You would breathe freer. The weights on your shoulders would be lighter. What about bad days? Would they really feel as bad? No. You would find the opportunity to have that sought after life balance.

STOP and notice how you feel right now. Your dream feels refreshing, doesn’t it?

Now, think about your current job. What is the commute like? You sit in traffic or follow slow cars. It takes 30 minutes, 45, 50. You walk into a cubicle farm with pumped-in air. The fluorescent lights seem to numb your eyes. Your breathing is short as you check your email and voicemails. You have long meetings that should only take 15 minutes but they someone draw out for 60 minutes. You watch the clock waiting for 5:00 to come. But, that doesn’t matter because you have to stay late anyways. By the time you get home you are beat whether you were busy or not because the environment alone drains you. You walk in your house and don’t feel like talking to anyone, but then you have to spend time with your family, which is great, but you aren’t 100% into it because you just want to go to bed.

STOP and notice how you feel now. You feel closed in and tired, don’t you?

Now compare and contrast the two feelings that resulted from my descriptions. Which do you prefer? It’s not even a contest is it? But now you are thinking ‘how do you get started?’

STOP. Don’t start looking at the reasons why you can’t do it. You just experienced the mental images and felt all the feelings that show you why you need to start moving in the direction that feels good. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It is the small things that we do each day that yield the results we want. If you dedicate just a little bit of time each day, in time (sooner than you think) you will be moving swiftly to your dream.

Here are half dozen small things to get you started….

1) Policing your inner self talk. Earl Nightingale said: “We are what we think about.” Make sure you are telling yourself good things. Think that you are good enough. That you are capable. That you will achieve your dreams.
2) Making time for you. You need to take time each day just to think and decompress. Do it with no one around and without the TV or radio or computer nearby. Ideas come when we are open to receiving them. It’s never in front of the computer checking email. It’s on a walk, or having a cup of coffee alone on your back porch, or in the shower.
3) Making a daily prioritized action list and review it each morning when you wake up and every night before bed. Put the items on it that will help you achieve your dreams. Complete the one thing that is more important than the others, then the next and so on. Try to get through at least 3-5 items on that list. Even one is a success. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is the little things done each day.
4) Eating healthy. I recently cut back on sugars and my energy level remained more constant throughout the day. That meant I had greater focus and was ultimately much more productive. Find a nutritional plan that fits you.
5) Remembering YOU are most important. You are #1. By being #1, you make yourself available to all the other inspirations in your life. Your belief system, your family, your friends, your hobbies, the thrill of travel, the adventure of learning something new, etc.…. This is all connected to you. By putting yourself first, you can be the best YOU for everyone and everything else.
6) Enjoying the journey. Have fun with this process.

Start doing these things and start taking action on your daily action items and you will start realizing you dreams.