I play a lot of racquet sports, more so in the last year thanks to COVID-19. Not just squash, which was off limits for about 6 months, but tennis, platform tennis and, most recently, pickleball (which is becoming hugely popular because it’s so easy to learn).
In my forever quest for improvement, I pay a lot of attention to my technique. I even got an inexpensive tripod recently and took some videos of my squash matches…and quickly had an existential crisis when I saw that my strokes don’t look like the pros’. So I fussed a bunch over my backswing, my follow-through, the position of my racquet.
Then I discovered that all those things I’d been worrying about pale in comparison to how I move around the court: when I consistently focus on just one thing – getting to the right spot with enough time to hit the ball – I play my best squash.
It’s not surprising. After 25 years of playing, I know the strokes well enough. I just need to put myself in a position to consistently do what I know how to do.
In the rest of our lives, “in position” isn’t about footwork, but the same principle applies about setting ourselves up to do our best work.
We do this by being grounded, calm, and focused on the person in front of us.
By centering ourselves with an intention of connection and generosity.
By taking a moment before we start to remind ourselves what we’re passionate about.
By letting go of the voices in our heads shouting about our impending failure before we’ve even begun.
And by, each day, allowing ourselves to be well-rested and centered, by taking care of our physical and emotional well-being outside of work so we can be our best selves at work and at home.
Sure, our skills can improve.
But most of the time what will help the most is setting ourselves up, consistently, to do the great work we already know how to do.
At our best, we are truly phenomenal.