It happened again. There I am, in the middle of a 19 second, six ball pass through the ski course, and at the 4th ball, my intensity went down. Letting up was not a conscious decision – it’s such an old habit, that it’s almost “natural”. Too natural. This time, the coach watching in the boat could see it on my face and called me on it. Pretty quickly, I understood the cause and was able to correct it on the next pass.
The cause of my lapse is very common and much harder to correct than it appears to be at first glance. What is it?
No, I’m not talking about me physically jumping anywhere. It’s my brain that makes the leap. In this case, my brain made the leap from 4 ball to the end of the lake.
I was already doing the post game analysis DURING the game.
Oops. Lost intensity and almost didn’t finish the pass. My mind jumped ahead said “I’ve got this.”
Jumping ahead is not the only place my mind jumps. More often than I care to admit, my mind will jump from what I’m doing to what you are thinking. Here’s an example: I was facilitating a leadership session for a new client and asked a very open-ended question to the group. Although I had been warned that the room would be full of introverts, my question was tailored for the talkers. It fell completely flat.
My thought-provoking, brainstorming, letsnoteveryonetalkatonce question was met with silent stares.
Then my mind jumped. This time the jump was not ahead, but “into their heads.” Not really into their heads – that’s impossible – but my fear of what was going on in their heads provoked these thoughts “What is happening? What do they think of me? They are not liking this. They hate me.” You can imagine how ineffective I was while those thoughts were running me. My client later said it looked like I had “left my body.” Yes, I had jumped!
After a few minutes, I gathered myself and we had a very good dialogue – when my brain stayed put in the present moment with my full attention on the group.
So what is “jump thinking?” Jump Thinking happens whenever the brain takes you ahead, behind, outside or into the deep (and currently non-relevant) recesses of your own mind. It is anytime your thinking has leapt to the future, the past or onto what you think someone else is thinking.
Ahead: “I’ve got this.”
Behind: “Why do I always (or never) do x?”
Outside: “Why are they looking at me like that? What do they think of me? How do I get them to [like me,] [think I’m smart], [think I’m valuable?]”
Deep Recesses: “Look how my hand just moved.”
This does not mean that you cannot think about the future or plan – of course you can.
However, in order to unleash your best performance, it’s best to keep your attention on the moment at hand.
We have incredibly distractible minds – more so now than ever with smart phones and other media temptations – so Jump Thinking is actually the norm. Staying present – keeping your attention on the thing at hand – has become a powerful, yet mostly absent skill.
Train your attention and watch your performance leap to another level.
What kind of “jump thinking” do you do? Do you jump back to the past, wondering “what if?” Do you jump to the future, doing the post game while the real game is happening right now? Do you jump to conclusions, taking things personally even when no ill was intended? What does it take for you to focus your attention on what is happening now?
As always, I would love to hear any tips, tricks or challenges that you have!
Know someone who would love this article? Email or share below!
Lynn Carnes accelerates change and unleashes leadership performance in organizations, especially in context of challenges without easy answers. She loves to hear about how your experiments with these ideas turn out. To contact her or share your experiences email email@example.com.
Sitting in a high school graduation ceremony recently, I found myself in tears from beginning to end. Was it because I was proud of my child walking across the stage? Nope, she’s 34, and while I was quite emotional (relief mostly) 16 years ago when she crossed the stage, it didn’t compare to the emotions felt during this graduation.
I really don’t have a word for the biggest emotion I felt this weekend. I used the word “verklempt” a lot, and it was somewhat fitting. For sure there was respect and awe for the very fact that this particular graduation was happening with this particular start up school. But this emotion was so much more.
What was really happening was “awareness of the positive consequences of grit.” Is there a word for the emotion that fits that definition?
Let me explain. Many years ago, our community began to realize that a school would make our little mountain town more complete. The original school was closed in the early 60’s and the high school closed before that. Early in the community conversation about needing a school, my husband “got it” and joined the effort to recruit a school. In many ways, this graduation was the culmination of the many events leading up to this moment – where I couldn’t stop crying for the life of me. (Even now, I really wish I had a word for this particular emotion.)
So many in the community played a part, some known and some unknown. Every part mattered, and that is part of why I was so overwhelmed. Recognizing the magnitude of the effort to do something that mattered so much to each of these student’s lives, the teachers, and the community really hit me in a deep way.
The other part of why I was so overwhelmed was because of the vantage point I had watching my husband and life partner tackle this challenge with everything he had. Let me be clear: I didn’t “get it” with the same fervor that he did. Daily, I wondered why. Weekly, I wondered when this passion would run its course. Annually, I wondered how long this could go on. And every now and then I asked him directly. Ok maybe I whined and bitched a little too – this passion was interfering with our lives in more ways than I can count.
Year after year, he persevered. He had grit. Through every milestone, he saw another need on the horizon. Getting the school’s charter led to standing up a temporary campus in 3 short months. Working with a start up school led to growing enrollment. Adding more students and a new grade level each year led to building a permanent campus. And this year the school graduated it’s first class of seniors. It seems so simple and straightforward from a distance.
Nothing is ever as simple as it seems from a distance – and that’s why I well up in tears every time I remember what it took.
When it got difficult, he found strength I didn’t know he had. He found strength HE didn’t know he had. Until this emotion flooded over me at the graduation, I thought of grit in a simplistic and singular way: pushing through hard times, bulldozing your way through.
Thanks to bearing witness to this effort over the last many years, my new definition is much more nuanced and wide ranging. Sitting in the ceremony - wishing I had brought a Kleenex - I reflected on the many faces of grit. Sometimes it required curiosity while he worked out a puzzle, looking for the piece that fit. Other times, patience was the answer, as the team looked for an elegant solution that was not obvious. At least once, it required wisdom as he stepped back when others had to find their way through. Many, many times, it required profound resilience, as obstacles and bad news piled up. Every time I thought the latest news was the last straw, he found a way to show up, looking for the way it WOULD work. The emotion I felt that day - and still feel when I think about this tremendous accomplishment - acknowledges the deep sacrifices made for something so much bigger than one man or one team.
Now I see grit as fueled by a purpose much greater than self, delivering determination to find what WILL work, whether a hard charging stance or a subtle application of wisdom, or resting in patience or recovery from the inevitable setbacks. It’s an entire repertoire of approaches aligned to the need at the time. Most importantly, grit is the willingness to stay with something that matters through the most difficult of times- primarily because it matters.
Know someone who would love this article? Email or share below!Lynn Carnes accelerates change and unleashes leadership performance in organizations, especially in context of challenges without easy answers. She loves to hear about how your experiments with these ideas turn out. To contact her or share your experiences email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspiring new ways to look at learning, growth, and reinvention, whether in leadership, athletics, art or life.
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