Yesterday, I had such a moment. I went to visit my mom in her retirement home to play bingo with her. My mom has Alzheimer’s, so I go and spend time with her while she’s enjoying her favourite activity-Bingo. Everything was as it normally is until the end when five minutes after we finished playing, she started to leave her room and when I asked where she was going, she looked at me and said: “I’m going to play Bingo.” It was like the wind was knocked out of me as I realized she had declined again since the last time I visited. I kept my tears to myself until I got to my car. Yet, I didn’t let them all out because I needed to drive home and I had an afternoon of work to get done. When I got home the floodgates opened up and I was in no condition to think about anything else. I tried to stop the flow of tears and that didn’t work. Now, some people would look at what I was dealing with and would completely understand if the rest of my day was a write-off. However, I have a deadline and I really couldn’t afford to have a breakdown in that moment. So, I did the only thing I knew might make a difference. I reached out to my coach requesting immediate coaching. And then I also reached out to my business partners requesting coaching. It wasn’t something that I would normally do right away. I know, it sounds crazy coming from a coach, yet it’s true! I would normally try to stuff my feelings down and power through, pretending I had everything handled! I had two coaching calls that had me see that I was collapsing a lot of things together and that opened up a space that allowed for me to breathe, calm down and have compassion for myself and my feelings.
Now, why am I sharing this? Because I discovered that giving my feelings room to be there and be expressed actually allowed me to get back to work and perform. You see, there is a context of performance that says to perform is to act. Act despite how you feel. Elite athletes and top performers adhere to this view of performance. We see it all the time at the Olympics when an athlete suffers a tragedy in their family right before their competition and they go out and perform the best they ever have. I always thought that they must have trained themselves to not feel anything, that if you wanted to become a top performer you had to suppress your emotions and feelings and essentially become a robot with a hardened heart! And as someone who is very sensitive and heart driven I struggled with my emotions and made them wrong! Now I realize that to be a performer means to act despite your feelings. And what gives you access to that is letting your feelings express themselves, acknowledging that they are there by sharing with someone you trust what you are dealing with and then going to take that action anyway!
So, when you find yourself dealing with one of life’s curveballs, or simply a terrible night’s sleep that has you not feel like doing anything but hide under the covers, acknowledge how you are feeling, get re-connected with your commitment and go take the action anyway. Develop yourself as a top performer!