I got this text a few weeks ago from a parent of one of my college softball athletes.
“My girl had a great weekend! You are a Rockstar. Keep up the good work with her!”
KISS rocker Paul Stanley would not approve as noted in the Super Bowl Workday spot in which rockers ask corporate types to stop calling each other Rockstar's!
Fast forward a few weeks and in comes a text from the athlete saying she was struggling at the plate again and could not figure out what she was doing differently.
This is a familiar scenario. After learning a few things about how our amazing, yet frustrating brain reacts to pressure, we often see a bump in performance if we implement a new tool or two.
We change our focus. We are more intentional with which thoughts we let stick around. We pay attention to what we need to do instead of other things around us.
Then our old habits slip back in. Why?
Because we don’t rise to occasions, we fall back on habits. And we have a habit of not minding our own business when we are performing!
After receiving the post-game text, I reached out to my athlete and we talked about her day at the plate. “Run me through your at bats,” I said. She started in by saying “I had a plan in my first at bat but lost my focus a little feeling like I had to get a hit because we weren’t hitting.”
She went on to say, “over the past few weeks, I have provided a spark and I needed to do that again. and I started guessing what the pitcher was going to throw me.” She went through her remaining plate appearances doing a good job of explaining them in productive terms and with a little nudging, was able to pick out things she did well even though she did not get the outcomes she wanted.
Statistically, it was not a good day. Mentally it wasn't either!
I am sure you can see where her “bad day at the plate” started, forget the fact that they pay guys millions of dollars to hit a baseball and some days they don’t find a hole either!
She felt like she HAD TO get a hit (which she knows she does not control) AND she changed her focus! And even though she put the ball in play a few times, she was focused things outside of her process and on the outcome.
When we evaluate our performance on results and when we stop minding our own business, we are bound to send an “I am struggling at the plate again” text and our mental coach will not be receiving “Rockstar” texts!
To help keep things process oriented, I do a little diagram to remind those I work with to mind our own business, be it athletes working on their 3-pointers, hitters like this kid or people working on public speaking. For the sake of demonstration right now, let’s stick with talking about the hitter, but the diagram pertains to all of us, no matter what we are trying to accomplish.
I use a circle (which you will see if you check out this week’s video) and have the hitter imagine the pitcher, hitter, catcher and umpire each in their "mind your own business" circles.
I start by explaining that the first circle contains the pitcher and what she can control. It surrounds the pitcher on the mound only.
The next circle surrounds the batter. It is located in the batter’s box and the batter’s box only.
The third circle surrounds the catcher, where the ball normally stops.
The fourth circle surrounds the umpire.
Each person in this progression controls ONLY what is in her/his circle. That is their business!
Thus, the ball starts in the pitcher’s circle, travels to the hitter’s circle, is caught (or not) if it enters into the catcher’s circle and then, if it did enter the catcher’s circle, it is influenced by the umpire’s circle.
Once the ball leaves the pitcher’s circle, she no longer has any control over it.
Before the ball enters the batter’s circle, she has no control over it, nor does she if it leaves her circle as she hits it, takes it or swings and misses.
It may or may not enter the catcher’s circle, and she only controls whether she catches it. That’s it! She may influence what happens next by framing a close pitch, but she does not control it.
Finally, if the ball is not hit, the umpire determines the outcome – ball or strike. However, the ball may be hit before it enters her/his circle so s/he may not have any influence over the outcome at all!
If the ball is hit, unless it is a line drive back at the pitcher (statistically there is a .0001 percent chance) and she catches it, the pitcher does not control the outcome. The hitter controls the outcome only if she swings and misses (who wants that control :)). And the umpire controls it only if she has the opportunity to call it a ball or strike.
Phew…there’s a lot of “out of my control” going on in this group…yet if you ask any of them, I bet they would tell you they control what happens and that they are paying attention to stuff that isn't their business. This is where the frustration sets in!
How could this possibly relate to public speakers or a sales team presenting a proposal?
As you stand up to present and give your message to the audience, you do not control what they will do or how they will respond, just like the pitcher or hitter doesn’t control how anyone else responds. You are in the business of sharing information. They are in the business of receiving it.
If we don’t control what happens and we tend to mind the business of others, what the heck can we do to find success?
Before we lay out how we can find success, here is what we must come to realize. As soon as you start to think about what is going on in the other person’s circle, you are no longer focused on what needs to happen in yours!
I was giving a presentation about a year ago and I saw a woman roll her eyes. For a split second, I felt myself change my expression and lessen my enthusiasm for my message, wondering if she thought it was stupid.
Guess what I wasn’t focused on at that moment? WHAT I WAS SAYING...which was my business! Her conversation with her neighbor was not my business!
I quickly rebounded. It wasn’t the first time in my life someone wasn’t, A. Paying attention to what I was saying or B. All into what I was saying. I was a coach, remember 😊!
I almost slipped into changing my entire approach because I was distracted by thoughts in this woman's circle and subsequently, of a poor outcome!
Let’s assume this is what my athlete was doing as well. She started with a plan. Then, without realizing it, she began thinking about what was going on in the pitcher’s circle and began to guess what the pitcher was going to throw. She increased the pressure of the situation by telling herself she “had to” get a hit. She watched the umpire’s tendencies up to this moment and jumped into his circle, hoping she wouldn’t get a bad call as well. She took it one step further as we often do and added another circle to the scenario... her coach’s circle!
This reminded me that there are so many other circles we slip into adding to our performances scenarios. Parents. Bosses. Peers and more! We get very worried about their business and most often, their business is not focused on us!
My athlete knew what her plan was, but it went out the window because, although she could still go through her pre-performance routine physically, her focus was elsewhere. At some moments it was in the future, worried about what the pitcher or umpire might do. At others, she was in the past as she worried about what her coach might do if she didn’t get that hit!
So many of the things that take us away from our circle and into others’ are related to what Dr. Rob Gilbert calls our WWOPS and WWOPT – what will other people say and what will other people think? AKA, other peoples' business!
Based on our own experiences, let's add another distraction to his acronyms – WWOPD – what will other people do?
Will they judge us? Reject us? Embarrass us? Yank us? Never hire us again? Demote us?
If we take our eye off the ball, any of these things can happen because we are not putting ourselves in a position to play at our peak.
We can’t reach the summit without focusing on the steps to get there!
However, if before we enter our circle we have gathered the relevant information we need to help us take action, prepared appropriately and developed a plan that allows for real-time adjustments, we have a much better chance of reaching our peak. We are minding our own business!
Then when we are in the circle it’s time to activate and narrow our focus, telling ourselves what we want and execute, controlling what we can control IN OUR CIRCLE!
And even if we don’t get the result we wish for this time, we can now step out of our circle to adjust our approach and evaluate our process in our relentless pursuit of improvement and manage our business again...and again...and again!
How many circles do you try to enter as you prepare to perform? Who's business are you minding?
Manage the moments…and your own business!!
P.S. I’d love to help your team adjust their mental game! Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 234-206-0946 and let’s set up a session or a plan for your program!
Mental Performance Coach
email@example.com • 234-206-0946