As a leader, how is your mental game?
I was thinking about this while watching the Olympics. It’s impressive to see these leaders excel in their field; they are really amazing! It reminds me of the great leaders and managers I work with who overcome obstacles, deal with setbacks and persevere to the end.
After watching the competitions, it was easy for me take their impressive skills for granted. After all, they make it look so easy. And then they make a clear mistake, that disruptions their focus and forces them to rapidly recover from the disruption.
We are all emerging from a period of disruption. As highly skilled and disciplined professionals it is imperative that we focus on developing our mental game. The first step is regaining our clarity and focus.
Clarity and Focus
Clarity is knowing exactly what you want to achieve as a leader: your vision. Focus is knowing and doing the actions required to get you there. Great leaders do the right thing, right now. How?
First, they develop a clear mental picture of their intention. Then, they make a conscious choice to commit to and pursue that intention. And last, but certainly not least, they develop strategies for protecting their intention against distracting feelings or emotions, like boredom and frustration.
Just like great athletes, great business leaders take purposeful action to preserve and strengthen their mental abilities. After all, leaders who work on their brain fitness are less prone to errors. They understand that clarity and focus require three key areas of brain function:
Cognition: Education and experience contribute to your cognitive abilities, so wise leaders engage in learning new skills which they practice to improve their processing speed (how quickly they can recall information, names, and memories). This allows them to make wise and timely decisions and responses, and, it also inhibits actions that could sabotage their best efforts, like hitting a ball at a line judge.
Emotion Management: Learning how to self-regulate emotions, including stress and anger, is crucial for personal and professional success. You see, when an event or action is stored in our memory, the associated emotion is also stored. This unconscious emotional tagging process can influence our clarity, focus, and future decision-making process.
Executive Judgment: This operational part of the brain enables us to receive information, assess our feelings, identify and analyze pros and cons, formulate plans and discern outcomes.
I’ll dive into this in greater detail in my next post. In the meantime, what do you think? How is your mental game?
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I look forward to seeing you at “The Coach’s Counter”