Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mental Training Techniques and the Job Search

Calming your emotions is the difference maker.  Your self talk before and during an event are the thoughts and feelings that run amok like a puppy chasing his tail.

"Don't go out too hard" = stress
"Start easily and build" = calm
"beautiful scenery" = happiness and relaxation
"I'm trashed" = sluggish feelings

The thoughts and feelings you allow in your head have a profound effect on how we race and live.  Thankfully, we can learn to manage those emotions and focus on the job at hand.  I've had to do the same thing in my job search.  

The emotions of a job search that began before I left AIM/WellPoint have been very much like an Ironman race.  They've ranged from excitement to aggravation to anxiety and depression to happiness.  My point is that our mental state is what determines whether we finish an Ironman successfully or DNF.  

Well, I can't DNF my job search.  Much as I hate talking to the 20 something recruiters of "EKTa" Systems (sounds something like that in pig Latin) who are order takers and not true recruiters; a body shop.  I must talk to them.  I must be nice.  I have to keep swimming forward.  Dealing with organizations that are so screwed up that even when they meet the person who can make the change in their organization they are too paralyzed by cloudy minds to take action.  My personal favorite is the leader who meets their future replacement and they realize it in the interview.  "Can't hire this guy.  He'll replace me one day." 

Simply breathing can help.

1. Calm the emotions
2. Collect my energy
3. Manage the pain
4. Create a positive attitude and find SOMETHING to be positive about.  
5. Visualize and feel an event 

1) Breathe. Inhale for 5 seconds with your arms pulled in.  Then exhale and release your arms breathing all the tension out.  Feel the rhythm of your breathing.  Feel your energy building.

2) As you breathe, feel the energy of life around you.  At a big race you can imagine pulling energy from the tension of the others out of the air.  This energy makes you stronger and your competition weaker.

3) Managing pain is a specialty of mine.  First, go into the pain.  Bask in the pain.  Feel it.  Reach into the pain and grab it.  Hold it in your hand.  Now pull it out of your head and put it on the side.  Let it sit.  You still can kind of feel it.  It is still there, but now it doesn't effect your race or mental state in your job search.

4) Find something to be positive about.  "I have great project management skills" or "Nobody brings the wide range of experience that I do to a project." It has to be true.  In a race it may be as simple as "This new race kit makes me look good" or even better something in the moment; "Listen to the sound of my race wheels as I'm doing 25 mph."

5) Visualize the details around your event.  Shaking the hand of your new executive, in a new city, at an entertainment giant.  Meeting the creative team with a bang and not just another corporate meeting which drones on for an hour and then goes away like a weak rain shower.  In an Ironman, feel the energy of the crowd on Al'ii Drive (the greatest 800 meters you'll ever run).  Feel the rise up the Queen K as you reach mile 25 and look down to the Pacific Ocean and hear the music at the finish line.  See the faces of the kids you'll high five on the way to the line.  
Stress is what you make out of it.  It can work for you if you know what to do.

This is the difference in my athletes.  They are ready for the experience.  As Yogi Berra once said, "90% of the game is half mental."

Off to meet with the outplacement "genius", her own words.  I hope she is.

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