Ever fallen asleep while reading in bed?
Your body did that.
Ever blush when you were trying hard to keep your cool?
Your emotions did that.
Ever felt sort of sick, but powered through something pretty successfully anyhow?
Your mind did that.
These kinds of things happen to you all the time, right?
Well, they actually happen more than you even realize, and you can use what’s going on there to determine and choose how your moments, interactions and days go rather than just allowing them to happen to you.
It’s called State, and you’re in one right now.
Not the geographic State like California, but your State as in where you are mentally, emotionally and physically at any given moment. You could be curious, riveted, bored, excited, tired, irritated, focused, creative, playful… these are all States.
Often people refer to their moods, which is pet peeve of mine, since it implies emotion only, and is actually inaccurate. There’s a lot more to where you are right now than just emotion, and you can actually manage it more easily than you’d think.
This is one of my favorite topics to coach, and a lot of fun to play with. It’s also one of the most important distinguishing factors between people who are “good” and people who are masters; think Michael Jordan vs. every other b-ball player (still), Peyton Manning vs. every other quarterback. Not only are they masters of their talent, they are also masters of their own State from second to second. Under tremendous pressure, they get and hold themselves perfectly aligned mentally, emotionally AND physically to outperform everyone else. This is key not only for them, but for you too. Why?
Performance is State-dependent.
Learning is State-dependent.
Attention is State-dependent.
Focus is State-dependent.
Whether or not you can perform, learn or focus as you want or need to completely depends on your State.
Here’s the piece people miss, which is the crucial…
State is always comprised of three interconnected parts: thoughts (mental), feelings (emotional) and position/action (physical). These are key, because every time one of these parts shift, the other two shift as well. Every time.
Change one part, you change them all. Every time.
Think about it…
You’re working, start to get bored, so get up and walk around for a minute. You sit back down, and you’re refocused. That’s a physical trigger shifting where you were mentally/emotionally. OR…
You’re tired, but talk yourself into working out anyhow. You don’t even get winded, have energy that surprises you, and get into a great workout . That’s a mental trigger shifting where you were physically/emotionally. OR…
You’re feeling cranky, tired and distracted, then someone calls or texts who always makes you smile or laugh. You come away from them on your phone happy, energized, and thinking more clearly. That’s an emotional trigger changing where you were emotionally/mentally/physically.
Every one of those is called a State Change, and you actually have lots of them all day long.
The question is this: Are they just happening to you or are you choosing them deliberately?
States get triggered by all sorts of things. Situations, conversations, episodes. Recurring triggers exist all over, too. These are called anchors, or associations to particular States. Common anchors are certain people (just seeing that one person’s name come up on your email or voicemail list triggers a certain State),
smells (recently a waiter was a completely thrown by how much my perfume was an anchor to his ex-girlfriend… awkward!),
music (that’s why your favorite show doesn’t change it’s theme song- it’s your trigger for an excited, anticipatory State to be ready for tuning in), and
places (that one spot where you… will always trigger the same memory and corresponding State…).
The mind-body connection has lots of research, and we’ve even come to reference “mind over matter” to explain how we performed despite ourselves or as a tactic to employ when we need to get “in the zone.” That’s really State we’re referencing, in moments when we’ve deliberately managed it- changed, accessed, set it so well that we could perform beyond the circumstances or what we normally could. Athletes and entertainers do this all the time pregame or preshow, in order to set themselves for their best performance. Why not you?
You can learn it…
Master State Management, and you’re on your way to guaranteeing your own performance.
The best examples to watch are in sports. To me, it’s a great fishbowl where I love to study moments, patterns and techniques of State management and mastery (or not).
The foul shot in basketball is the ultimate test of State. Technically, it’s the easiest shot there is- straight in front of the basket, nobody interfering, the same every time. And yet… it’s not the easiest shot, because it’s really a test of being able to set and hold State. This is brilliant, in my opinion. Elite, uber-talented professional basketball players screw up this shot. Some chronically. Why? Change one, you change them all. There’s no question of whether they can physically make the shot- of course they can. They have and will nail thousands of foul shots, maybe even with their eyes closed. Not the point. You put them on the foul line with pressure of the win in jeopardy, slow time down, and then it’s not about physical or technical ability. It’s about being able to set and hold State. It’s mental and emotional… and if these aren’t set it automatically, literally handicaps their physical ability in that moment to hit the shot or not. All connected, all the time.
The difference between you and an NBA star…
Actually quite a few, right? So, you may not be a professional basketball player, but I’d wager that your performance may actually have more at stake to it than that player on the foul line for one shot in one game. Yours is about performing as a the right leader to your team, creator of the ground-breaking idea, or listener for another human being. Your State matters.
Think of it as the glue that holds everything else (your talent, your ability, your knowledge) together. If you have those things and you can manage your State well, you’re set. If you have all that, but can’t hold your State, you’re inconsistent at best.
So- let’s get you some State mastery, yes?
You can change your own and other people’s States in an instant, and it will make all the difference between good and great, control vs. none over the quality of your experiences and ultimately…what you can generate in your own performance.
I coach to this every day, so if you really want to dive in, let’s chat. Meanwhile, we’ll take a few posts to mess with it and build these critical new muscles for you. This is truly just Part 1.
•Wake up a new self-awareness… of your State.
To get more out of your moments and mastery over your State, you have to first be able to call it in the moment. What State are you in right now? Hopefully it’s something like curious, focused, or intrigued as you’re reading this . If it’s not any of those, see if you can give it a name. “Good” and “bad” don’t cut it for pinpointing a State. Get more specific, like: Focused, energized, calm, anticipating, inspired, motivated, determined, enthusiastic, excited, curious, open, reflective, peaceful, etc.
Doubting, restless, critical, frustrated, annoyed, grouchy, sad, angry, restless, anxious, distracted, defensive, judging…
If you find yourself thinking “I don’t know what State I’m in,” see if one of those listed fits, and your brain will usually work out the right answer from the contrast… “No- that’s not it, it’s really….!”
•Pay close attention to WHAT, WHO and WHEN your States get triggered or are vulnerable.
You’ll notice that your State might be a really good one like curious, creative, focused, open… but then it gets messed with by something, which spins you into an unproductive State like stressed, irritated, mad, complacent, crabby, taskmaster, or whatever.
For example, certain people trigger States for you. Who sets yours off every time? Good or bad?
Or, it could be a certain topic that does it.
Or, it could be a certain time of day that does it to you.
Or it could be situational- like getting feedback.
Or, it could be particular people, songs, places or smells that trigger certain States as anchors. Pay attention.
•Find your triggers and use them.
Anchors for certain States are all around you- good and bad. It takes extra awareness to realize when your State is being triggered, in the moment. Try calling it, then use anchors to your advantage.
Place that stresses you? Get out of there and avoid it if possible- switch it up.
Favorite song that fires you up? Listen to it before the big presentation.
Shirt that makes you feel invincible? Wear it for the big meeting.
Scent that calms you? Wear it when you know you’re anxious.
Photo that reminds you of a great/successful/peaceful/connected moment? Get it onto your wall or phone where you can look at it when you’re off.
There’s a lot more to this. We’re just getting started. This is enough to mess with for a week.
Deliberately setting or changing your State- in the moment and strategically.
Getting other people’s states and how to change those, too.
Meanwhile, stay tuned to yourself, and see how quickly you can call out your own State. You’ll be way ahead of most people around you.