On Tuesday of last week we traveled to Rhode Island to meet with my mentor, Alan Weiss. We came to discuss our hopes, aspirations and plans for my business in 2017. There was one problem. I didn’t show up.
I was physically present, but mentally I wasn’t there. What happened?
The night before our meeting I had one of the worst nights of sleep in a long time. I slept for a total of ninety minutes. The night before that, the fire alarm in our hotel went off at 2:45am and we were thrust out of bed and into the lobby of the Crown Plaza.
These two nights of poor sleep meant I went to meet with Alan with both hands tied behind my back, and the two brains cells I had left were fighting for who would go to sleep first.
Right out of the chute Alan asked me a fundamental business question. “Hugh, how are your clients better off for having worked with you.” The answer I gave broke the cardinal rule for my work as an advisor to executives and entrepreneurs. I answered in methodology and not based on business value. Alan said in his best New York manner, “that’s not what I asked you. I asked you how are your clients better off?” I tried again. It didn’t work. I tried to answer his question again, and again wasn’t able to answer his question. After working with Alan for six years I know what comes next. A double barrel of Alan love.
In the seconds that followed my third and unsuccessful attempt to answer Alan’s question I felt inept. Actually, I felt afraid that Alan and Alyson would think I had lost my mind or 100 IQ points and that this time was going to be wasted. Alan was looking at me, as was Alyson, and all of the work I’ve done to align my thinking with a life of flourishing, joy and success disappeared.
But, actually, I didn’t lose my mind. I found it.
I found my mind after recognizing that one of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to stop worrying about what other people think of me. To be in the moment and show up as the best version of me I can. If the way I show up doesn’t please you, satisfy you, impress you or convince you I am worthy, well, frankly I could give a rip.
That’s what I did with Alan. I said, “Alan, I’ve not slept well the last two nights and am here on fumes. I need to regroup on our agenda and start in a different place. If we do that I believe I can get up to speed.”
Was Alan okay with this? Of course. Was I okay with this? Not until today.
Over the last four days I’ve come to see that finding our minds is rooted in losing our minds. Losing the tight grip on how we are seen, perceived and the tightly constructed persona that we present in order to be seen as successful, intelligent and worthwhile. All of the gyrations I’ve gone through to manage this persona is BS. I have good days as well as bad days, and defining myself by how I engage in one meeting is a complete waste of time and saps me of energy for doing my best work. If not addressed quickly I revert back to old patterns that rob me of love, joy and connection.
If you ever find yourself in the same situation I have three recommendations of you:
1. Stop trying to please others. Do your best and move on.
2. Be in the present moment. The joy and fulfillment we all desire is never found in the past or the future. It’s in the here and now.
3. Take a baby step toward your ideal day or week. Your life is far more rewarding and enriching when you focus on progress and not perfection.
That’s what I did and it worked wonders for me. I trust it will do the same for you.
What other recommendations do you have?