“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” — Duke Ellington
Wouldn’t it be great to always be at your best?
Always productive, motivated, and shaking off discouragement with a smile on your face?
Okay, enough wishful thinking. The reality is we have good and bad days.
No one is always and forever at their best.
Sometimes it’s smooth sailing. We feel energize, are making progress, and feel grateful and confident.
But on the “not so good” days, when we face discouragement and unexpected obstacles, it can feel like the sky is falling!
When life isn’t going our way, we need a plan to manage our mindset and attitude, so we can deal with unexpected challenges and show up at our best.
Coach and author Jason Goldberg refers to this idea as self-leadership, where we are “response-able” for our attitude and choices in the moment.
Here are a five ways to build that inner-leader.
1. Get a good start
“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
The first priority is to create a morning ritual. What you do first thing in the morning colors the rest of your day.
Successful people have a morning routine or ritual that helps them get focused, think positively, and take intentional action.
For my routine, I listen to uplifting or educational podcasts, meditate for 10-15 minutes, play drums for about 20 minutes to experience flow, and exercise at least 4 days of the week.
Without self-nourishment and personal care in my routine, I’m less patient and compassionate, I’m more reactive and less likely to be a self-leader.
2. Get centered
“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” – Barbara Bush
To be at your best you can’t be reactive and get thrown for a loop every time things don’t go as planned. You need to stay calm and poised. This is also called being “centered” or “grounded.”
It’s the opposite of feeling anxious, fearful, and high-strung. When our body is in fight-or-flight mode we aren’t thinking clearly. Instead of looking for opportunities or solutions, we become reactive and focused on danger and threats.
According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, we have an optimal level of arousal to achieve peak performance. When we are extremely anxious, fearful or emotional we choke and aren’t at our best.
We want to be calmly focused and engaged.
Every time you start to feel anxious or fearful, reconnect with your body and ground yourself by taking 3 slow deep breaths.
3. Have an attitude of gratitude
“The value of a moment is immeasurable. The power of just ONE moment can propel you to success and happiness or chain you to failure and misery.” ― Steve Maraboli
The crown jewel of a positive attitude is gratitude! When you’re having “one of those days,” turn your awareness to what you appreciate.
Don’t overlook the small things. Do it right now. What is one thing you are thankful for that you’ve been taking for granted?
Because of our negativity bias, we tend to focus on problems and what isn’t going well, instead of the small victories and blessings we experience every day.
To create a attitude of gratitude list five things that you’re thankful for each day.
It can be an pleasant conversation you had, a delicious meal you ate, a new opportunity, a moment of relaxation, or simply the fact that you woke-up today and have a chance to experience life.
4. Get comfortable with discomfort
“Do you really want to look back on your life and see how wonderful it could have been had you not been afraid to live it?” – Caroline Myss
Sometimes we’re going to feel uncomfortable (a lot of the time if you’re chasing a dream). Things won’t go as planned, obstacles will emerge, and we’ll wonder why the hell we’re doing what we’re doing.
When this happens lean into the discomfort. The more comfortable we are with feeling unpleasant emotions the more likely we’ll step-up and choose an empowered response.
What’s possible if you’re not afraid to feel disappointment? Or fear? Or embarrassment?
Don’t let unpleasant feelings stop you from being a rock star!
Your job is to be a self-leader. Instead of avoiding problems, blaming other people, and giving-up, you can choose to step into the discomfort and make a positive change.
5. Focus on priorities
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
To be at your best, you need a clear and definite aim for your day. Define what a successful days looks like.
Get organized and prioritize your day the evening before. Determine the top 3 most important items that will make the biggest difference in your day.
Use these to order your day and stay focused even when things goes awry.
Hold yourself accountable to your daily agenda and ask, “How can I respond to this to get the result I want?”
Plan to be your best
“Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us.” – Angela Bassett
When life kicks you in the ass you need a plan to fight back.
If you don’t have a plan to be at your best, you can end up stuck, distracted, and worse, cascading down a spiral of negativity.
Use these ideas to create a positive attitude, stay focused on your daily agenda, and be intentional about how you respond to challenges.
Photo credit: Joshua Earle