Last week, I ran a half marathon. I wasn’t in the best shape given I was battling a cold and had missed a couple of training runs. As I approached the starting line, I didn’t feel like this was my day to break any records.
A fun part of runs is reading the humorous posters that people display along the course. Even the most popular phrases―“Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon”, “Worst Parade Ever”–continue to inspire smiles.
There is one sign that I look out for at every race: “Touch Here for Power”. I always take the opportunity to veer off the path to hit the star-burst on the poster to receive my motivational power charge.
I used to do it because it was fun. Now I do it because it has become a trigger for my performance mindset. Immediately after I hit the target my mind focuses, I take stalk of my physical condition and what I need to do to maximize my speed.
Within seconds I have formed a game plan. I may decide to rehydrate at the next water station, eat a snack, change my stride, run faster or slower. I am confident that I am improving my performance regardless of the action.
I also have tricked my mind into believing that I am getting energy from the sign. It gives me a psychological edge when battling pain, exhaustion and ever-depleting resources. Performance is a mental and physical pursuit.
The same phenomenon holds true in business. Before I give a presentation, I call on my triggers to focus my mind, survey my environment and maximize my performance.
Here are the triggers I have developed:
- Introduce myself to everyone in the room―for large groups, meet everyone sitting at the front three tables
- Angle my body so that it is squarely facing my audience
- Control my breathing―breathe in, hold my breath and exhale for three seconds
- Begin with an open-palmed welcoming gesture
- Share a story that either relates to the audience or my topic
Two kilometres before the finish line I saw another “Touch here for power” sign. Again, I veered over and hit the star-burst, triggering my performance mindset.