The latest in our Q&A series, with our mind set coach Alison Clarke.
Q.“Why is it that I have days when I can be really focused and achieve a lot and then there are other days when I can’t seem to focus?
It’s so frustrating- on my good days I can answer loads of emails, deal with every issue that comes up creatively, stay calm when things get hectic and get on with everybody.
And then on my bad days I am less productive, I feel stressed and sometimes anxious, I don’t feel like picking up the phone and I don’t achieve very much and go home worrying whether I am doing the right thing. To be honest some weeks the bad days outnumber the good days- how can I change that and be more productive!?”
A. One of the questions I am asked a lot as a mind set coach is around performance- how to consistently achieve that level of high performance and work to the best of our capabilities on a daily basis. And how to minimise the days when we don’t.
It seems confusing that we know we can operate on that level, and it feels so good when we do, and yet those days can be few and far between.
The first thing I say in response is- let me point you to a better question- “What do I need to stop doing in order to allow my natural state of high performance to shine through?”
When we are having an off day, we tend to look to external causes to find reasons why we are not feeling inspired or performing at our best, but the thing people find the most confusing, when it is pointed out, is that actually nothing changes in the external circumstances between the good days and the bad days.
The job is the same, the place is the same and the people are the same but who “we are” in response to all of that seems to be different.
We might blame our lack of performance on our workload, we might blame it on our co-workers, we might blame it on the weather, we might blame it on our team, we might blame it on our partner….where we forget to look at is what is going on in our mind and “how” we are seeing the same world we are looking at today, that we were looking at and seeing differently yesterday.
The GREAT NEWS is the good days are always there.
The good days are actually who we are naturally when we don’t have much on our minds.
And the really great news is that we naturally reset to not having much on our minds when we don’t interfere with the process.
When we understand the true relationship with our thoughts and how they colour and distort the way we see our life, we no longer need to sort out anything in our outside world to improve our experience.
We understand experience is internally generated.
So here is what happens, here is an insight into our relationship with life-
Our state of mind is determined by the thoughts we are paying attention to in any given moment.
We are feeling the results of our thinking 100% of the time.
Low moods come, and low moods go. Sometimes the thought that creates a low mood is so fleeting that we are not aware of it, but suddenly there is a cloud in our sky obscuring the sun. Thought has created a feeling and without knowing it we are looking at the world through the clouds rather than through clear sky. What we are “seeing” has become clouded. What we are looking at hasn’t changed, but how we see it, has.
If we were to slow down in that moment and notice how we are feeling, we would notice how our feelings are only telling us that we have thinking going on that has clouded our perceptions, and that if we do nothing about that, it will pass.
Thought always passes unless we pay it attention and focus on it. And when we let it pass, the clear sky is back and the natural creativity and inspiration mind-set that cultivates high- performance, that is always there behind the clouds, is back again without us needing to do anything.
What tends to happen though is that a low mood comes along, our point of view gets corrupted and we begin to analyse everything in our life and think it needs to change in order for us to have a better experience.
Our workload that looked manageable yesterday is suddenly looking stressful, our partner that yesterday looked supportive suddenly looks very critical, our team that before looked so productive suddenly looks incompetent and we start to question everything. Our productivity suffers, we don’t deal with paperwork and emails, we stop picking up the phone, our mood gets lower and we look to our external world to make changes, thinking that is what will enhance our performance.
But the only thing that is getting in the way of our natural ability is a whole load of thought we have taken seriously and got caught up in.
When we understand how our experience of life is being created, that it stems from passing thought that we don’t need to take seriously, the clouds pass quickly, and we don’t allow thinking to get in the way of our performance.
We understand where the source of our overwhelm is coming from and where our feelings are really coming from in the situation.
We no longer need to do anything about our workload, we no longer need to put off starting something until we feel more inspired, we stop blaming others/ our customers/ our accountant for how we are feeling and understand that feelings are an inside job.
The more we put our attention on sorting out the outside world from a low mood the LESS successful we will be. And the more we stop taking our passing thoughts into account and believe they are telling us about our outside world the MORE successful we will be at operating from a clear mind.
It’s a bit like when we have a cut- the body goes into a natural resetting process that we don’t need to think about or do anything to help. It will start to heal itself without any intervention from us and the mind works in the same way, when we don’t intervene. If we allow it to settle and not jump into more “thought action” it will return to its peaceful state.
It is from this peaceful state of mind that high-performance comes. It is from this peaceful state of mind that clarity and better results come.
Allow your feelings to take the temperature on your thoughts and slow down when you notice them starting to heat up. The more you allow the reset mechanism to naturally work and do nothing with the thoughts, do nothing with what you believe is affecting your performance, do nothing other than notice the thoughts, the reset mechanism will work more and more and more consistent high-performance will follow.
To speak with Alison about this or any other state of mind questions please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07713626673