written by Erica Quam
There were several activities that took me out of my comfort zone in my role as a head coach: networking, recruiting, and speaking. You may find it hard to believe that a head coach of a Pac-12 program could be such an introvert. The two don't seem to fit together. Yet...there I was.
To say I had a bad-attitude at times was an understatement.
I made up stories about what people thought of me. I would compare myself to other coaches. I had a stream of negative thoughts swirling around in my head.
What flipped the switch?
I finally realized I was making myself miserable.
My thoughts impacted my attitude.
I started to understand how much energy I was wasting.
Here are 5 things I decided to change
1. I began to give myself permission to feel uncomfortable and simply acknowledge that these situations aren't my favorite. I wasn't trying to make it go away or pretend...I was just trying to acknowledge my discomfort.
2. Then, I gave myself a pep talk. I challenged myself to show up and just be totally open.
3. I went into situations equipped with a list of questions in my back pocket. (Seriously...sometimes I’d go to the restroom to pull out my questions as a refresher). I used this strategy to spark ideas for conversations. Then I could sit back and listen while other people did more of the talking.
4. I made self-care a priority. Instead of staying up late and worrying about how things would go, or what I would say, I’d get to bed early.
5. I also went in with a specific intention around how I wanted to feel throughout my experience.
If you can relate to this story, then you may find it helpful to become more aware of your own patterns and what happens to you when you're in situations that are way outside your comfort zone.
This could include networking events, going to talk to your boss about something that's happened on your team, having a hard conversation with a student-athlete, dealing with a lawsuit, having to fire someone, going on an interview, doing a home visit, and a myriad of other things coaches have to do during their career.
You may recognize a horizontal pattern…when your attention is splattered all over the place.
Your mind is scattered. You get overwhelmed. Your emotions are on a roller coaster ride. You might literally feel as if you have left your body.
This pattern may show up:
When someone pushes your buttons and triggers you
When you take on too much...saying yes when you really meant no
When you're in a stressful situation...and your body turns on the fight or flight response
When you're in fear...and you literally get stuck....afraid to move forward
When you're in a mindset of lack (dwelling on what you don't have) instead of a mindset of abundance (focusing on what you do)
Can you change a pattern?
This is becoming more and more challenging in today's society.
We live in a reactive world right now.
Everything in the news and on social media is trying to get our attention. People pay big bucks for innovative marketers to get us to click, like, or buy something.
You first have to want to change this pattern.
It takes commitment not to be a 'reaction-aholic.'
It takes awareness of your thoughts.
It takes a willingness to let go of your stories & beliefs:
'I'm no good at these kinds of things.'
'Something must be wrong with me.'
'No one understands me.'
'I don't want to say or do the wrong thing.'
'I'll never fit in.'
You won't ever totally get rid of this pattern of reaction.
Maybe instead you can change how long you stay there.
The more you become aware, the sooner you can get grounded and bring your power back.
When you notice yourself triggered and moving into a pattern of reactivity, see if you can literally come back to your body.
1. Feel your feet on the ground. There's something simple and powerful about being connected to the earth.
2. Turn your attention inwards. Notice what's going on in your body instead of looking around at everything and everyone outside of you. Focus your breath, notice your heart beat, observe where you're holding onto tension inside.
3. Notice your thoughts. Your thoughts are just your thoughts. Challenge them. Are they real? How do you know that thought is real? What if it were possible that thought wasn’t true?
The next time
So, the next time you are out of your comfort zone and want to run, hide, fix yourself, or blame someone else...see if you can pause long enough to notice the pattern and then get vertical.
Assignment for the week: Observe yourself. Begin to notice when you feel grounded and when you feel scattered. When you move into reactive mode: 1. become more aware 2. pause and 3. get back in your body.