“Employment and enjoyment should not be mutually exclusive.” — Jack Sayler
Last week on Praxis Wednesday, we were joined by former salesman, sales manager, and business owner Jack Sayler. Over the course of his career, Jack has hired hundreds of sales people, run administrative teams, and built multiple companies.
In last week’s workshop, Jack talked about the psychology of Peak Performance. He defined success, examined the differences between those who struggle and those who succeed, talked about how to bounce back from failure (primarily the little failures we encounter in our day-to-day lives), and the art of tuning your inner and outer language choices.
As Jack explained it to us:
“Life isn’t always fair to us. The business world is maybe more brutal sometimes than the regular world — maybe not — but we all have ups and downs, and we need to learn how to keep our heads straight both when things are going well and when they’re not.
Peak performance is the key to success in anything you commit to doing, and the toughest part for people to understand is that everything is in your mind — the way you interpret things. We’re all going to have good things happen to us, and we’re all going to have tough things happen to us, and it’s all about how we respond to that.”
Jack’s most important points:
- Peak performance is all about taking the pain out of work and replacing it with enjoyment, focus, and progress
- The paradox of performance — when are you at your best, from a performance standpoint? When you’re having fun. And yet we’re told, “work is hard. You have to do hard things to get what you want.”
- In important moments of performance, it’s exponentially more difficult to complete your goal if you don’t enjoy the process.
- Polar thinking is when you’re only thinking in terms of winning and losing. If all you’re thinking is “I hope I make it,” or “I hope I don’t lose,” it negatively impacts your performance.
Jack talked about the importance of staying in the moment:
- Your “Critical Advisor” is the voice in your head that’s constantly criticizing you and worrying about the future and the past. You want to get that static out of your mind and focus clearly on the thing at hand.
- You can have goals, but you can’t focus on that in the moment. You can’t focus on previous failures in the moment.
- Think about it by using tennis as a metaphor. When you’re playing tennis, you’re thinking about hitting the ball, not about the points. When you start thinking like this — in the moment — it makes a huge difference in your performance.
- Sports psychologists talk about this a lot — being in the moment. Not beating yourself up about where you’ve failed or thinking too much about the future.
- “The only time you can initiate action is right now, in this moment.” – Jack Sayler
- You can’t control what other people think or how other people treat you. You have to think about what you can do.
- Trick to clear your mind: ask yourself, “What is my next thought?”
Jack also talked about high-performance vs. low-performance language:
- Be mindful of the leverage of language. One thing that’s really important is the way that you speak — not just the way that you speak to others, but the way that you speak to yourself. Positive actions stem from positive words.
- Instead of saying “I can’t complain,” say “I feel terrific” — which has a positive connotation
- Be careful using words like “can’t, shouldn’t, won’t” — people pick up the negativity, even if it’s unintentional.
- Positive words also have an impact on your body language, which is where most of your communication comes from.
At the end of the call, participants talked about applying these concepts in their own lives. As you examine how these concepts might apply to you, a few valuable questions to consider:
- What is the biggest place in your work that critical thinking is impacting you?
- How is critical thinking holding you back? What would you do if that voice wasn’t in your head slowing you down?
- What’s the biggest place you have room to love the process of the work you’re doing?
- What things do you commonly say that have a negative twist, that you could give a positive twist to? (In the spirit of “I can’t complain” vs. “I feel terrific.”)