When an athlete or performer is on their game, they are at their best – present to what they’re doing, highly responsive to their environment, and somehow just knowing what to do at exactly the right time to do it. When they lose their bearings and go off their game, they get caught up in their heads, attempting to replace the flow of instinct and intuition with an ever increasing amount of rules and information and spending more time worrying about their performance than actually performing.
The same is true for each one of us, and points us to an unbreakable rule in the game of life:
The more time we spend being “on our game”, the more effective we will be,
the higher our level of performance will be, and the better results we will produce.
So let’s begin with a simple question:
In the work that you do, what percentage of your time would you say that you spend “on your game”?
Regardless of what number you came up with, the fact that you could come up with any number at all indicates that you already have some sense of what it feels like for you to be on your game and what it feels like when you’re not. Here’s a contrastive analysis I once did for myself to highlight some of those differences as I personally experience them:
Of course, knowing when you’re off your game doesn’t mean it will never happen. The truth is, we all lose our bearings from time to time. We get caught up in some dark thoughts or a low mood and the world seems a harsh and unforgiving place. To the extent that we can see these times for what they are – momentary or even extended periods of being off our game – we can limit the damage we do to our relationships, our careers, and our lives. Instead of following through on the seemingly urgent directives of our own insecure thinking, we can instead step back, allow ourselves to get reflective, and wait for our thoughts and mood to rise. Then, when we are feeling “more ourselves”, we can once again trust our thinking, take appropriate action, and move forward with our lives. Once you recognize the importance of being on your game in creating better results and have a sense of what some of your personal key indicators are for being on or off your game, the obvious question to ask is how to be on your game more often.
That’s the subject of our next section…