Calvin Strachan | Blind-sided in a meeting! Lost your train of thought! Here’s how to recover.
Over the span of my career I've held many roles, most of which required me to perform under massive pressure.
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Blind-sided in a meeting! Lost your train of thought! Here’s how to recover.

I want to talk to you about meditation. I know I’ve covered this before in a previous blog where I said, “when you’re under pressure, meditation really helps”. There is lots of research on this, Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, where they have faculties dedicated to studying pressure performance. From their research meditation is one of the things you should do.

Why? Because when you meditate, it teaches you to notice what’s happening with your body. As you notice what’s happening in your body, you will be able say to yourself, “Okay, wait a minute. I’m in a place I don’t want to be. My heart’s going too fast. My hands are getting shaky. I’m talking too much.” You will be so present that you will feel the pressure and you will move away from it.

There’s one more thing I want to add on that I’ve just discovered j recently. One of my big challenges is letting go. Letting go of old thoughts, whether it is past relationships, past managers, past bosses, past deals I’ve blown, mistakes I’ve made. The hard part about that is, when you face those moments again, if you haven’t let them go, pressure is really hard to manage.

So, what does this have to do with meditation? What’s fascinating is, when you sit down and you do the meditation (maybe you use the Calm app) and it’s usually a 10 or 12-minute meditation. What they have you do is notice your breathing, breathe in and begin to feel your body. Invariably, what happens in meditation is your mind wanders. Every time. You’re quiet, you’re breathing, and your mind wanders. Then what do they have you do in that meditation? They say, “It’s okay, don’t judge yourself. Just let that go and come back to the breath.”

So, part of me is like, that's it. Let that go and come back to center.

I’ve gotten better at that over the years, and I noticed that meditation has the same tenet as acting. When I was an actor, I took voice classes specifically on how to be more present. The idea was what’s happening with your body? Do you feel your feet? Do you feel your legs? Do you feel your heart? Do you feel your hands shaking? If you do, let that go and just come right back.

So what I’m saying to you is how do you let go? You treat your thoughts like a passing moment. Don’t judge yourself for having them; just notice what’s happening. Let that go and come right back to where you are.

You might say, “Calvin, that sounds so simplistic.”

So, here’s a real-life example. In the work that I do now, I talk to all these different companies around the world. We never just go in and start professing our genius to these companies, ever. What happens is we have to actually talk to some people inside the company first, to figure out what’s happening with them. What are their needs and what are their goals? What’s their company lingo? What’s the culture? What are the obstacles they’re facing? We do a deep dive just to figure what’s happening with that particular company.

Why am I telling you this? On of these calls, I was talking to these leaders. I’m talking to the leaders, who’ve got lots of experience, and they are supposed to be a good sample set of who these people are about. In the middle of this call, one of the women on the call was absolutely rude.

She came right at me. She scolded me with, “Who do you think you are? What have you learned? What are you doing? What’s the point?” Totally aggressive, assaulting me through this phone call. And the other folks on the phone got silent, awkward. I could feel my whole body tensing up all I could think was “I’m going to rip your…” Right? I was like lit up. And so in that moment, I’m lit up about to… then all of sudden I said to myself, “Whoa, let this go. Come right back.”

At first, I lost my train of thought. My questions were gone. I couldn’t see straight. I was like, “I’m going to rage on you,” in that moment. I felt the heartbeat going too fast. I felt myself talking too quick. I felt my hand getting a bit shaky. Not focusing on my questions. I didn’t judge myself for thinking, “Oh, what’s wrong with her? How could she do that?” No, no, no, no. Let this go. Come right back.

So the point of meditation, why it's a good practice for pressure is you will get good at noticing that your thoughts have drifted. And you will be able to say to yourself “Let this go, come right back”. “Let this go, come right back”. Does that make sense?

If you’re getting this, you’ll understand how to perform better under pressure. If you can get good at letting go of those moments and just coming right back, you’ll find a way to win.

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