During more than two decades in public relations, I helped prepare many senior executives and subject matter experts to show up ready. In most cases, they were about to have a difficult, high-stakes conversation. Each time it was instructive yet nothing has taught me more about showing up ready than my own career journey.
I had always thought myself a strong communicator. After all, I do it for a living! As a health and fitness enthusiast and former marathoner, I also thought I knew just how to insulate myself against stress and over-scheduling. As an avid networker, I would always show up ready in every situation. Right? Wrong!
By my late 30’s I had accumulated enough medium-grade stress in my life to test my good habits. Years of long commutes, job changes, office drama, going full throttle at networking and yes, some personal life challenges eventually took their toll. I still showed up, but I didn’t show up ready. In meetings, I was so busy rehearsing lines in my head that I sometimes failed to deliver them. I got frustrated trying to build deeper connections with clients and coworkers. I often had emotional reactions to work-related conversations, and even if I didn’t express it, they festered.
Eventually I realized I wasn’t living a life even close to how I’d envisioned it. It had nothing to do with my job title or location or achievements but it had everything to do with how I interacted with and experienced the world around me. So I decided to reinvest in myself. I hired a productivity/business coach, lined up a personal trainer at the gym and started reading prolific amounts of material on fitness, health and mindfulness.
When I say the process was life-changing, it’s no exaggeration. With small adjustments to my work routines and my wellness habits, good things happened. I suddenly felt I had more time and space to think about what I was saying and doing and how I was engaging with people around me. I worried less about my presentation slides and focused more on being present. I found more time to engage with colleagues, to problem solve together, and to be a better mentor. I literally relaxed and began to approach networking events and regular meetings as opportunities to connect, not chores. I found new appreciation for volunteer commitments. Client relationships flourished. Not to mention, I dropped a few pounds, slept better, became a more focused parent, and generally felt like I had hit the reset button.
While I know we can’t do it all 100% of the time, I believe we are in total control of how we show up at work, at home and in the community. With an awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses and some strategic work-arounds, there’s no reason we can’t bring our best selves to every occasion. When we do, we get results: enriching and productive conversations that accomplish our goals and build better connections.
Let’s face it: we can all use a refresh as we enter a new phase of our life and career. We take on more responsibility at work and at home, build more community connections and expand our circles. As our life evolves, our communication style needs to follow.
As a communications coach, I can help individuals and teams uncover their unique attributes and develop the right habits to help them move confidently into what life and work serves up. It’s not just what we say, it’s how we show up, so why not show up ready?