What is our personal best? Who knows for certain? But one thing is for sure. You know when you feel good, and that means something. But what really makes you feel good? A new car? Yep. Recognition and a raise? Oh, Ya! Excelling at or being really good at something, like your job? Definitely. How about doing the right thing when it’s really hard, rather than not doing something else that’s a lot easier and would be accepted just as well? Say what?
I’m a Psychologist. I have worked with elite athletes. I also operate as a performance coach for my non-athlete clients striving for optimal performance or peak performance, and I’m a life coach and provide clients with personal best coaching, to help them finding “flow” in everyday life. One theory that I’ve been considering for a while now suggests that in order to achieve optimal performance and perform at our best, it’s going to take more of us than ever before. If you want to achieve your personal best in any area of life, you’re going to have to get comfortable with personal development.
Whether we’re preparing for a presentation, sitting for an examination, or aiming at exceeding targeted goals, what we used to consider our best, just might not cut it any longer. Contemplating our personal best and searching for optimal experience may mean that we might want to consider how we can give something a little extra. Our best simply isn’t what it used to be, for any of us. Don’t take it personally. We’re going through a cultural correction. People, as a rule, are expecting more out of life.
Perhaps life as we’ve known it has been over-rated for quite a number of years now anyway. Its time has come. It’s time to turn over a new leaf. Achieving optimal performance doesn’t even have the same meaning for people as it once did. It’s not about trying harder, putting in more hours, and it’s definitely not about you being more intelligent or talented than others. Introducing “Positive Psychology.”
Psychologically, our personal best comes from getting to know ourselves very well and then using our natural talents and rhythms to our advantage. Our motivation comes from our daily life. If you feel badly, are seeking weight loss, or have a desire to attract beautiful people, you’re going to want to be at your best. Of course, there are other people to think about, and they are a very important class of people to consider, too. Consider yourself and others together and not one at the expense of the other. In a previous post, I referred to “Perfecting Your Process” as a way of getting the best out of ourselves.
As part of the “Positive Psychology” movement, Otto Scharmer, author of “Theory U”, and “Presencing” discloses a process of keeping up with this cultural correction and becoming the best version of ourselves in the process. In “Perfecting Your Process,” I suggested that the better we can care for ourselves, the better our mental performance will be and that translates into better performance overall. The better we perform, the more we can contribute to others. These “others” I’m referring to, love it when we contribute value to their lives. Yes, in some ways, getting out our best is just that simple.
Today, change and competition have become such an important aspect of life, that we have now reached a point in history, which demands greater effort, just to meet yesterday’s standards. Consider your parents or grandparents. Even if they were a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, their professional success didn’t require the same education that is mandatory today. The same effort that has helped us to achieve in the past, is the same effort that will produce only mediocre results today. We all want more and we are finding ways to create it.
Carol S. Pearson, author of the Hero Within, said “Virtually all of us understand that we are entering a time so challenging that qualities we once expected to find only in exceptional people now are required in everyone.”
It is a time for all to recognize and to champion our “inner resources.” Could we, ourselves be our best competitive advantage? We are more sophisticated now than ever. Just a decade, or so ago, the President of the United States made reference to “the nation’s journey.” Business texts regularly reference leaders’ “heroic journeys.” Today’s Psychology provides therapy that encourages clients to accept the challenges that we have inherited, take up the struggle whatever it is, and create a life worth living. But how?
Standing on the shoulders of giants, we can improve the quality of our lives, more easily engage fully in our lives, for this is our path, warts and all. This is what life is all about. Allow ourselves to evolve, to grow, develop beyond our wildest dreams. These are really the only dreams worth striving for, according to Elenor Roosevelt. They conjure up a mood that blends uncertainty with confidence, hopelessness with brilliance, and devastation with success. This path is the epitome of mental health, without any of the types of therapy that are offered today. This will be time well spent. Such endeavors will lead us into “flow” experiences and into best versions of ourselves.
Imagine yourself just slightly missing your target and achieving mediocre results. How do you feel just imagining this? Not great. Now contrast this negative emotional image with a positively charged image of yourself throwing everything you’ve got into your next effort, in an attempt to, not merely meet expectations but to, join the ranks of those who have exceeded them. Imagine achieving your objective. How does it feel emotionally? How does it feel physically?
Use the power of your imagination. Don’t just grit your teeth and put pressure on yourself. Consult your Psychologist of choice if needed. Increasing your self-knowledge, learning more about some of your subtlest strengths and weaknesses, then consciously and deliberately displaying your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses will improve your ability to be your best. This is the nature of sports psychology and is also the message put forward by Sam Parker. He calls it the “212-degree,” the extra degree.
At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.
This must become the image that you see in your mind. Increasing temperature by a single degree is sufficient to move a 130-ton locomotive. The smallest changes then can make all the difference in the world. Let yourself step up and really engage with the image of struggling to join those who have already made it. Let yourself enter your “flow.”
Whatever your personal best means to you, I think this will help. This will push you to the top!