Showing Up Day in, Day out
How do you show up daily? #sixwordsportpsych
"80% of life is showing up," said Woody Allen. Supposedly.
Wherever the quote came from, as a society we value the day in and day out actions of those that show up. This, to me, speaks to Jacob Riis and the value of the little successes en route to a greater goal:
" Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."
However, the how matters, too. How do you show up? What is the energy you bring to your day? How is the quality of your work? How many hours of deep focus or deliberate practice are you putting in?
Think about going to the park. Maybe you shoot around for an hour and a half with your airbuds in, listening to your favorite tunes, enjoying a nice day. Maybe you go and play 21 with four other people. How often are you going and actively working on your skills? Paying close mind to technique, being repetitive until you get an aspect down, moving yourself until you're exhausted and then, at that point, giving 10% more?
The real work is the how of how you show up. It's the positive attitude you bring to a meeting, the ability to not be distracted by texts, emails, calls and social media. What energy are you radiating when you show up at a practice? How you show up is as important as showing up because if you show up without your best, and your unable to adjust, the damage you can do in your relationships and on how you are received in the world can be harmed.
So, I ask. How do you show up daily?
What do you do to set your day off right? Do you meditate, workout, eat right, set an intention, knock out a to-do list?
Do you let people in when you're stuck in traffic? Do you turn the television on before noon? Are you pleasant to speak with in the office break room? How do you show up?
We're often mindless when it comes to showing up a particular way. Mindfulness helps us be cognizant of how we interact with others, how we intend to get our work done on a particular day, how we handle distraction.
Regular meditation practice has helped me show up with more intention that aligns with the values I believe in. By pausing for 15-20 minutes a day, over the last few years, I've gained in my ability to recognize the way I'm thinking and feeling and choose to act in a way that is in accordance with who I am.
The Mindfulness Acceptance Commitment (MAC) framework, developed by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore as an extension of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), is the core of my work with clients. I believe if we are able to enhance our mindfulness practice, the impacts it will have on our entire lives will allow enhanced sport performance to come as a positive perk of doing business. By doing the work of mindfulness, athletes work out the muscle in their minds that allows them to focus on the most important play, the present one.
Once mindfulness practice is in place, an athlete is free to fail. They recognize that each moment is new and holding onto past mistakes or future unkowns is all worthy of exploration at another time. The present remains the most pressing.
Acceptance is a hard thought for athletes. Acceptance sounds like letting things happening to you without a fight. The truth is that it's not about quitting or not trying hard, it's not accepting that you're not going to be great or accepting losing. The acceptance piece of the MAC approach is about recognizing what is and allowing it to pass, because everything always does. Acceptance is about non-resistance. When we resist what is, we headbutt a problem, forehead to forehead. We come fit to wall. Yes, perhaps if we punch the wall enough times, we will get through the initial layer, but at what cost? Look at your bleeding hand!
Acceptance underscores understanding of the duality of nature. The yin and the yang. That all action has an equal and opposite reaction, that give and take exists. By accepting that a negative feeling has arrived and then allowing it to pass through without resisting it, we are not impacted by it. We stand above and view it as it moves in, through, and now out of us. The next moment.
Again, this is not a simple step for athletes, or anyone. Much of this can be "simple but not easy," (Kabat-Zinn) but all of it is worthwhile in whatever your endeavor.
The last piece of the MAC framework is commitment. This is less difficult to grasp. What we do is work together to determine those key life and performance ethics, values, beliefs, that you hold dear. This is a great process of introspection that people find very valuable. When do you have the opportunity to stop and really critically reflect on what it is you believe in?
Once you ascertain those values that you hold most dear to your life, and to your successful performance, we work on determining what it looks like for you to show up in this manner, every day of your life. In so doing, by walking in knowledge of and commitment to your 'how,' you are closer to your purpose, your 'why.'
Good luck on your journey.