What exactly is meant by “perfecting our process?” Meditation, emotional attitude, cognitive mindset, awareness, recovery time, the rhythm of effort, and finally, strategy. These all collaborate and where they intersect becomes a great opportunity for you. Let me explain the multi-pronged approach to high-performance.
When I was younger I spent time with friends in the evening and on weekends in a gym. We worked out hard with weights. I attempted to “beef up,” as I felt that I was rather skinny. It was a great past time as well as a social event. Eventually, I took up jogging and participating in 10K races in and around my home. During the warmer months, I went fishing and hiking with the guys on weekends, which eventually gave way to golf.
From my teenage years, I had always practiced meditation on and off. Mostly off to be honest, but as I got older, that has become more important to me. Although these are all healthy activities, meditation, works directly on our central engine. It assists me in creating a more desirable state of mind of focused, yet softer, gentler thoughts and emotions. Our most potent resource is the inner state we create. It impacts everything that we do.
I have often said we would all be better off if we would “stop trying to be perfect,” and instead, work on “perfecting our process!“ For professional athletes (though perhaps referred to slightly differently), perfecting your process is a practice or routine. When implemented, the process prepares the athlete for high-level competition. It relates to how they train and exercise, the quality of what they eat, how they sleep, get support, and prepare mentally.
If you are not an athlete, “perfecting your process” is still a discipline. It’s a collection of activities or rituals that you practice. It relates to how or even if you regularly prepare mentally for meetings and other interpersonal interactions. Do you mentally rehearse events before they occur? Of course eating, sleeping and emotional support are staples of performing at your best, but mental rehearsal improves confidence and encourages relaxation.
“Perfecting your process” prepares non-athletes for high-level performance, in these ways. This is true for both our personal and professional lives. “Perfecting your process” has less to do with getting your performance to be perfect or failing at it, and more to do with strengthening positive habits that will lead you to continuously improved performance. Do you have and utilize a high-performance routine?
Perfecting your process involves discovering a few enjoyable or exciting activities that we can practice regularly, and make into a discipline. The activities we choose are essential. Not just any activity will regulate our energy levels in the ideal direction.
Personally, I like having activities that I can use to regulate my energy levels up, like running. But I also rely on meditation and mindfulness to regulate myself down. Pumping up just doesn’t always lead to the best energy to bring to all situations.
Many of us run, work out, meditate, visualize, give ourselves pep talks, and work with coaches. All these activities are aimed at regulating our mental and physical energy levels, putting us into the most amenable state of mind possible, our personal “flow zone.” This might be said to be the path to high-performance and it also could be called “mind management.” In a few other words, it’s seeding our subconscious. Perfecting your process becomes more potent with every activity that you deliberately add to your routine.
Whether your personal competition refers to corporate communications, relations with extended family members, kids, spouse, dates or work-related colleagues, a regular training session with your Psychologist or coach might just help you to focus your attention onto your most applicable strengths and remind you where your weaknesses need to be avoided. You can call this a strategy session, a counseling session, training, or simply preparation, but the upshot is your personal process gets improved.
Personally, I enjoy the process of meditation as it provides me with the opportunity to pay attention to the quality of my mind, calms me typically, and assists me in focusing. But running still contributes, as does reading, writing, even golf. Any activity, theoretically, can function as a trigger to help you to achieve the essential state of mind for high-performance. It all depends upon your nature or default position.
Stop trying to be perfect! You may succeed from time to time, even often, but it may also give you anxiety, ulcers and you will not really be performing at your best anyway. Take a lesson from sports psychology. A professional athlete typically trains hard but also gives herself recovery time. It’s mandatory unless you want to burn out or don’t care about really getting the best out of yourself. It is quite common for our competitive nature to rev us up too much, and we need to regulate ourselves down.
Pat Perez, a longtime PGA golf professional, personified this concept by winning the 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba on the Mexican Riviera. Pat said that a shoulder surgery had “forced” him to take a break that he would not have taken otherwise. Because of the break, you might say that Pat’s subconscious had been tuned up. He was fresh, eager, hungry, and that added to his already strong golf acumen. The rest is history.
If you have a deep desire to excel, love what you do, maintain a degree of ambition, or hold a strong work ethic, you may also have a tendency to push yourself too much. This might allow you to accomplish greater quantity than quality. Pushing is excellent, but mandatory recovery time only makes sense, to adequately prepare your mind and emotions to achieve at your very best.
My advice to athletes is to find a rhythm of push and rest, push and rest, push, and rest. With each interval, we might expect a small improvement. This is “perfecting your process” at work. My advice to anyone else who wants to perform at their best is to similarly find a rhythm for yourself. A process that prepares you to adequately meet the challenges of your life with quality. That’s the general look and feel of “perfecting your process.”
The specific mechanics of “perfecting your process” is unique, for each individual will have a different competitive focus. Strengths and weaknesses are unique for each one of us. To be clear, I am still referring to a “process” that you engage in, a ritual practice or discipline. One that focuses on continuously trying to be aware of yourself (your mind or emotional energy) and your own habits.
Awareness is a key attribute, so that you know when and in what direction to regulate yourself for optimal performance. When you’re rested and feeling charged up emotionally, it is time to push yourself and your efforts, just like Pat Perez did. When you have been pushing yourself for the day or for an extended period, there comes the point when it’s time to give yourself a moment to recover and rejuvenate yourself. The most common problem I’m aware of that many of us have, is spending all our energy on work, not leaving anything for when we get home to our families.
To illustrate, say I know that I have a natural tendency to anger easily, curse, insult, or generally push others away. It eventually comes to my attention that these automatic responses have been in my way of developing into a better leader, and I have a great desire to improve my leadership abilities and to influence others more effectively. “Perfecting my process” means, in this situation, that I need to change or do something different, right? Just don’t add pressure by thinking you have to stop feeling angry. This will fail. So begin thinking about how I can “perfect my Process.”
My process begins when I become aware of my vulnerability and should continue along the lines of cultivating a greater awareness of my related strengths, which I can use to replace my weakness. My process should continue to include a way to continuously grow a greater full awareness of my weakness’ “trigger points,” which are ordinarily stress-related. This greater detail will help me to refine my efforts.
I’m not always angry. But I should be aware of those specific situations that do tend to anger me. Moving forward, I can strategize about how to best perfect my approach. This will allow me to focus more on letting my strengths show and avoiding those times and situations that otherwise demonstrate my weakness. This is often accomplished through rest, meditation, and recovery as I’ve said. Refine my strategy a little more. Consider or analyze, meditate, and refine again. Since we do not ever reach perfection, we find ourselves in a continuous “process of refinement” that I like to call “perfecting our process.”
Anytime we can become more aware of the details of how we tend to feel and behave (as in the examples above), we have an opportunity to be able to stop and redirect our energy toward something more positive or more productive. Say I catch myself starting to feel angry. I begin a quiet little meditation, and voila!
As a result, I may look and feel more credible to others, those whom I may want to influence. The best part is, I start to feel great, confident, happy, well-adjusted, and to have even more very functional relationships. This is the potential pay-off of engaging in “perfecting your process.” Personally, I started when I was younger, spending time with friends in the gym, jogging, fishing, and hiking, which eventually gave way to golf. Perhaps more important than anything was that I had always practiced meditation.