Do You Have a Pre-Game Ritual?

I’m writing this blog post on a Sunday, even though it probably won’t be posted until Thursday. I typically post to my blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays; on Friday morning I crank one out for Tuesday, and on Sunday, I am pecking away for Thursday. Blogging is not my job, but I still take it seriously.  Once I decide to do something, I am hell-bent on following through. My goal is to religiously post twice a week, and to not shortcut my way to a post. At a minimum, I want my posts to be at least 500 words that tell a story, and hopefully provide a lesson or share some tips that have been beneficial to me. Music is always playing in the background when I am writing. I write every blog post in the notes app on my iPad, then I email it to myself, copy & paste to Word, and give it a proof at another time. After I proof, I send it to my wife, Patricia; Jo Newell, a friend of ours and my CFO; and Kelly Downing, my CMO, who knows me in a work way better than anyone. They all give it a proof, make tweaks, and make sure it is comprehensible and that I come off like I know what I’m writing about.

So, now that I’ve shared my blog writing habits, where am I going with this? Well, as I mentioned, I am writing this on a Sunday, and we are at the start of football season, and that got me thinking about pre-game rituals. Most athletes have them. Before a game, some guys eat the same meals, others drive the same route, or go through the same exercise and stretching routine to get prepared. A few may be primarily superstitious behaviors, but many of these rituals are to get mentally and physically prepared for the contest ahead. A football game is controlled chaos, quite similar to a battlefield. No matter how much you prepare, it is impossible to know exactly what is going to occur. High stakes are involved week to week, and each game actually means something. And the reality is, one team is going to lose.

It’s probably not that dramatic in most folks’ day to day work experience; unless, of course, you work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Although there may not be as much on the line for you, a pre-game ritual really can help you prepare for the workday ahead. On Sundays, I get up before the kids, make coffee, walk out to the dock, and work on my blog until the kids come out to chat. I typically lay down the concept and have a solid first draft completed by the time they join me.  When winter comes, the setting will change, but I’m sure the consistency of the habitual manner in which I perform will not.

When I have meetings with clients, or new business pitches, I step it up even more. The mental preparation is much more intense in regard to covering and mastering the materials to be addressed. The order in which I do things is typically the same; this consistent approach brings me to a place where I am confident that I am fully prepared.  The morning of a meeting, while I am in the shower, I visualize the meeting, the people participating in it, what I am saying, and what others will be saying and asking. This mental walk-though provides the repetition that is necessary for mastering anything you do.

Then, I go through an emotional preparation to ensure I will perform at my best. Anyone who has ever met with me will attest to the high energy I possess in anything I am working on. It may not be as physical as slamming the shoulder pads of a teammate to get pumped up, but I always psyche myself up prior to a meeting. And, to keep the adrenalin flowing, I crank up a kick-ass song for the ride that suits the meeting and my mood.  It may be some AC/DC – “For Those About to Rock”, or some Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”; whatever the song, it’s sure to provide that extra something to kick things off.

Don’t look at pre-game rituals as a mechanism used only by athletes to get into the zone. These rituals provide consistency, organizational structure, and preparation for anyone who wants to excel. Having your own routine could just make the difference in how you perform in your next meeting.

Do you have a pre-game ritual? Why not? For those about to rock, I salute you!

Time to wrap…. here come the kids.

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