Boris Becker was 17 years old when he won the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Championship in1985, a rare feat. He is the youngest player ever to do so. The experts who were watching him play were fascinated by one remarkable quality in the young man. He would completely forget about a bad shot he had made in the previous point and be fully focused on the current point. They went on to say that even the best players are seen admonishing themselves long after a poor shot or decision was made thus affecting their game at the present moment. Becker was able to be “present” in the game and unleashed his full potential in the tournament.
We have all had experiences in life that were disappointing, disturbing and in some cases extremely depressing. We all made bad choices and took wrong decisions. But the most effective leaders and high achievers and contented people among us found a way to let go of the past and not brood over perceived injustices or disappointments for too long. We forged a new beginning every time with renewed energy and focus. This is a critical requirement to unleash our full potential.
Another important related quality is to let go of the fear and worry about future. None of us know what the future holds but it somehow seems to be easier to worry about potential road blocks rather than visualize a glorious outcome. Charles Dickens famously said and I paraphrase, “my life has been full of tragedies most of which never materialized.” As we know, thinking or worrying about future doesn’t magically make it get better. In fact it prevents us from performing the very action that we need to perform to help influence the best possible outcome.
Whether you are a leader of a large organization or a high achiever who wants to excel in your chosen profession or an individual who simply wants to be contented and be the best you can be, this quality of “letting go” is crucial. Easier said than done, right? Well, we all had moments in our lives when we were fully present. Be it a birth of our child or being totally immersed in an activity that we are passionate about, we have experienced it. It is not just the domain of professional athletes who experience this “presence” when they are in a “zone.” And when we are present, time seemingly comes to a stand still. Our productivity and effectiveness reaches an all-time high. When we are in this space we are no longer encumbered by the past or the future, we are fully here and now.
Once we experience the joy of being in that state, we long to get back there. How can we extend this state of presence to more frequent and longer periods of time? Is it possible to be in this state 24×7? I have been fortunate to be in the presence (no pun intended) of people who are in this state all the time. So I know it is possible. This realization is an important step in the journey. Fact is we already have this innate capability. We have to overcome self doubt that we allowed to grow over the years. It requires conscious awareness on our part. As we go through our daily activities, silently observing our thoughts can serve as a powerful technique to improve our presence. With practice, our state of presence is no longer dependent on the nature of activity but every action is infused and enhanced with conscious awareness and presence. This process can be accelerated with the help of a skillful coach.
Many people say to me that they were able to use the disappointment and fear of failure to motivate them to do better. Yes we can and many actually do that, but we will be lot more effective by simply letting go and not hanging on to the unnecessary baggage. It is also the difference between being in a High Performance state and an