This is a strategy to effectively manage a setback without trading your personal health for professional performance. I recently got thrown off by a professional setback that took me by surprise.
This is my 5 step system I used to recover and manage myself through a difficult time.
A major personal or professional setback can throw anyone off mentally and emotionally. Imagine losing the largest deal of the year in sales or having to fire an employee, or a catastrophic hardware failure occurs.
Major setbacks like this will happen in your life and work. When they happen - What do you do to stay on track personally and professionally without trading your health or your performance at work?
I didn’t have a plan for this and many professionals don’t have a specific strategy. We resort to blowing off steam via a vice like drinking or an outlet like running or yoga.
But, there’s a better way. I call this “Performance Processing”.
Performance processing is an emotional management strategy for peak performance in a professional of high stakes environment.
The goal is to sail through the rough seas of a major setback without taking a major hit to your performance or mental health.
Here’s what happened to me.
I recently experienced a major professional setback while building our men’s coaching practice with my partner Mike Sagun.
An opportunity to partner with a professional training company in San Francisco unexpectedly fell through at the last minute. What might have been a year making opportunity went upside down and turned to nothing overnight and I was left feeling lost, surprised, confused and angry at myself for allowing such a situation to ruin my motivation.
***As I write this article I am 1 week since this setback occurred. I’m writing this as much for you as I am for myself. This is what I did and what allowed me to recover and get back on track quickly.
Step / Day 1: Step into your personal container of emotional safety (1 Hour).
Step / Day 2: Step into your performance processing container (1 Hour).
Step / Day 3-5: Ship one important thing + plan empty self care space for later.
Step / Day 4: Schedule a self care Sunday (Check in and reflect)
Step / Day 5-7: Let go and integration (acknowledge what is still there).
5 steps performance processing strategy
Step 1 / Day 1: Step into your personal container of emotional safety (1 Hour).
Many people don’t have this in their life. If you are creating this from scratch, it’s likely the easiest to create with a good friend or partner. In order to create this container you need at least a single session of checking in on how you feel physically and mentally along with the context of what happened.
The goal is to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without trying to fix, solve, plan or strategize. A basic script is to do a 10 min meditation, then share the context of what happened (with as little story as possible) then have your friend ask you 1) What are you feeling? 2) Where do you feel it in your body? And 3) What do you need? Try not to plan, strategize or fix this situation. Simply sit in the situation together.
When creating this container of safety it’s important to point out that this is useful for you as a human in all walks of life. This container isn’t just for this situation and each time you do this type of check in your container will get stronger. This is something you are creating for you, your personal relationships and your professional life. It is not simply for this strategy but it is where we must start so we can move onto the next step.
Now we are entering the realm of performance processing.
Step / Day 2: Step into your performance processing container (1 Hour).
Checking in with yourself and your situation in step 1 is a reminder of the strong base of emotional safety that we have in our lives. In this zone we are completely accepting and not trying to fix, plan, strategize, or understand. We are being. If you don’t have this strong base in your personal life - it becomes hard to create an adjacent performance processing container for your professional life. This is a form of compartmentalization.
To make the boundary between these two containers more noticeable - I like to first “request a focus session or performance session” with my coach or mentor that I’m working with. Mike and I do this for each other in our business. I use my environment, people, the agreements we have when in session, and time of day to help me draw a psychic boundary between my primary container of safety and my performance environment.
You are doing this when:
You ask to not go into a subject that will take you off focus.
You use a meeting space outside of the office as an opportunity to be more open.
You make an agreement to focus on work until a specific time / creating space later in the day
You schedule a 1/1 to acknowledge something that happened and refocus on priorities
If you’ve ever had a one on one with a manager who created a safe space for you to be open about how you felt and was then able to help you focus on the next step - you had this.
Set some agreements: You are at choice. The purpose of this container is not to solve what happened but to clear the context of what occurred with a trusted advisor, take responsibility for what occurred, and to focus on a clear next step that you can take to get back on track.
Check in: 1-5 min, how are you feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally)
Context: 5-10 min, give the context of the setback with a focus on brevity and as little story as possible. Get to the feeling and emotion that resulted. What happened? Boom, and then Boom, and then Boom this left me feeling Boom.
Responsibility: 20 min, what are you taking responsibility for?
Next step: 20 min, find one constructive thing to do next and do it. Pick something that is specific, deliverable in a day and important to your original mission prior to the setback.
Check out: 1 min, how are you feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally)
If you still need to dig into the setback. Schedule an opportunity to come back to the subject now so that you can focus on priorities at hand. This is usually 3-5 days later.
Step / Day 3-5: One important thing + plan empty self care space for later.
Now that you’ve created a boundary between your primary container and your performance container build momentum over the next few days by picking one important thing related to your previous mission and doing it. Then leave empty space for tasks and to check in on your state of mind.
This is a time to build success montum and get back on track. We are not hiding from our emotions we are choosing to process with a mindset toward performance because doing well with your work will in turn support your own personal recovery.
Step / Day 4: Self care Sunday. This doesn’t need to be Sunday but the transition takes time and iteration to overcome. I’m planning for a day of processing and self care 4-5 days after the setback in order to give myself permission to focus on delivering my one thing during the day when I want to build my performance back to where it was.
Step / Day 5-7: Let go and integration. If you created a primary container of emotional safety (Step 1) and created a performance processing container and delivered a next step (Step 2) and finally maintained this ritual for 3-5 days delivering small important project (Step 3) and given yourself an outlet in the near future to take care of yourself - you will be in a different world a week after a setback.
Now, you’ll be ready to integrate into the way life was prior to your setback. And if you aren’t, you’ll be in a good place to continue working on whatever is holding you back. A good question to ask at this stage might be: What do I need to let go of in order to move on?
Remember - as mens coaches and good humans we are here to take care of you the person before taking care of anyone else. In other words - Put your mask on first so you can help others. Do not use a performance processing strategy if you don't have an equal and opposite personal processing container in your life at home. You come first.