Living Your Life
Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected sources. And so it was last Friday night… as I found myself watching Sportscenter on ESPN.
Most of the show was background noise to me, as it usually is. Blah, blah, blah. I didn’t perk up until I heard the start of an interview with golfer Lee Westwood. Lee was a strong contender to win The Open after early rounds of play. He was getting a lot of attention and his game was under intense scrutiny. A reporter asked Lee if the pressure of others’ expectations was impacting how he played the game. I listened to his response and didn’t think anything else about it.
Until the next morning.
Lee’s response was that he makes a conscious choice to live his life “inside out” rather than “outside in.” He doesn’t let the opinions of others influence his play or his approach to the game.
I have to believe that’s very difficult to do in the limelight. It’s really hard to do even out of the limelight. Lee’s comment got me thinking about the power of staying true to your own game in the workplace. What does it mean to live your life “inside out” in a more traditional work setting?
You may be surprised at just how important I think this concept is to your success. Inspired by ESPN? Weird. But inspired all the same. Check it out and let me know what you think. Reading time: About 3 minutes.
Do you live your life “inside out” at work?
Is it worth trying?
How To Live “Inside Out” At Work
Living your life “inside out” is about knowing how to play your best game, regardless of the judgments and influences of those around you. Most of us don’t do this nearly as well as we could (with just a little practice.)
Here are three ideas on how to play your best game at work.
1. Know your game.
It’s hard to bring your best game forward when you don’t know what your best game feels like.
- What’s your story?
- What matters to you?
- What do you stand for?
- What are your strengths?
- What is it that makes you different, better, smarter, or faster?
- What do others value the most about you?
If you can’t answer these questions, do yourself - and the world - a favor and dig in. There are so many tools and services available to help you be 100% clear about who you are, and how to do your best work. Below are two of my favorite assessments, both of which I use extensively in my coaching practice.
Check these out on your own, or partner with a coach to do this work.
You won’t regret it. I promise you.
StrengthFinders: Marcus Buckingham’s ground-breaking book and assessment to help you discover your true and natural strengths. http://strengths.gallup.com
Fascination: Sally Hogshead’s fascinating work on what makes each of us… fascinating. You can find her assessment here. http://www.howtofascinate.com
Nothing impacts your success more directly than knowing without a shadow of a doubt what your true talents are - and how to use them.
2. Understand the triggers that throw you off your game.
Even when you’re putting your talent to great use and delivering solid performance at work, certain triggers can throw you off of your game at any time.
- Have you ever worked with someone who just seems to bring out the worst in you?
- Are specific situations or circumstances at work routinely unsettling for you?
- Do certain topics frustrate you, over and over again?
You may not be able to stop triggers (people, circumstances, or topics) from happening, but you can minimize their impact on you. How? Identify the triggers that throw you off your game and know exactly how you’ll handle them in advance.
Keep an eye on your responses to situations at work for a week or two. You’ll be able to identify specific things (or people) that seem to throw you off balance, stress you out, or cause you to react in non-productive ways.
To reach your full potential at work, you need a strategy for how to handle triggers. You have to find a way to NOT let others throw you off your game. The good news is that just by being aware of your exact triggers, you gain power over how much influence they have. Small changes in perspective can bring big changes in how you respond to triggers.
If you invest the time to plan and practice building up resistance to specific known triggers, you’ll enjoy huge gains in both success and satisfaction at work.
3. Up your game.
The ultimate way to live “inside out” is to be influenced less by the judgments of others and more by your own expectations. This is much easier said than done.
- Do you think you “know” with certainty how others view you?
- Do you ever feel judged, disrespected, or discounted at work?
- Do you behave differently around different groups of people to earn acceptance?
Martha Beck wrote recently about her belief that we allow the perceptions of others to influence our behavior in life. She suggests that if we knew we were loved, we would behave differently. I agree, and I think a similar concept applies in the workplace.
What if every time you engaged with others at work, you knew without any doubt that every single person held you in the highest regard? What if you knew you had their unconditional respect, admiration, and approval? Would that change the way you carry yourself, share ideas, and partner with others to do good work?
I say YES. Nearly every triggering situation that throws you off of your game at work has to do with feeling or fearing judgment, disrespect, or lack of appreciation. Notice I said “feeling” and not “experiencing.” Too often, we make assumptions about how others view us. We change our behavior in anticipation– based on assumptions that may not even be true. Before we know it, we’re not anywhere near playing our best game.
What could be better really, than to live your life “inside out?” To know with confidence that you’re great at what you do. To worry less about what others have to say, and focus more on what you know about your own personal best.
To raise your level of play at work, you have to be less susceptible to the influences of others and play your own best game.
Know your talents and put them to good use. Identify people, circumstances or topics that impact your ability to do your best work and develop strategies to manage the rough.
Believe that you already have respect and acceptance in the workplace and behave accordingly. You’ll be more confident, respectful of others, and collaborative guaranteed. If you didn't earn respect before, you will after you make this mental switch.
I think Lee Westwood’s reference to living his life “inside out” is a great way to think about this approach to life. Knowing you’re great and sharing your distinct greatness with the world in a way that honors yourself and other people… is the only way to play.
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