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!

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