How to be our ‘best self’ is a big question! A question that may take a life time – and possibly longer – to answer.
When we are our ‘best self’ we often don’t notice. Things are going smoothly, it feels easy and effortless. Sometimes we only become aware when things get tough and we’re no longer our ‘best self’.
In my executive coaching work, the times when my clients often struggle to be their ‘best self’ is when they can’t be themselves at work or when there is a mismatch between their values and those of their organisation.
When we’re not at our best
What happens when you can’t follow your conscience, when you’re not being heard, when you’re challenging the decisions or behaviours of those around you?
These are the times when it may be hardest to be our ‘best self’. It may take us outside our window of tolerance (Dr Daniel Siegel), impacting our ability to reflect, think rationally and make decisions, perhaps leaving us overwhelmed or withdrawn.
The irony is the behaviours that help us when we’re being our ‘best self’ can get in the way when we’re under stress and at the edge of our window of tolerance. The person who’s calm under pressure may become cold and distant. The person with a quest for perfection may become overly critical of themselves and others. The person who’s good with team members may become indecisive and unassertive.
Tips for being our ‘best self’ more of the time
There are things we can do to help us be our ‘best self’ more of the time:
1. A good starting point is to understand your behavioural drivers (Kahler) and how they help you on a good day and become unhelpful when you’re feeling stressed and under pressure. You can do this by taking a behavioural drivers questionnaire.
2. Become more aware of your edge and your triggers – the situations, decisions, relationships that take you from being your ‘best self’ to outside of our window of tolerance. And rather than react, take a step back and decide how you want to respond.
3. Reflect on when are you at your best? Think back to a time when you were at your best – who were you with, what were you doing, how did you feel? And then create more opportunities to be at your best – to do the things that give you energy, joy and fulfilment.
My son started a new job this week and as part of the induction programme they were asked to share the best day of their lives. Each person had to speak for 10 minutes without interruption. He described the energy in the room lifting, an eagerness to hear each others stories and a remarkable ease to their storytelling – a flow. They were then invited by the facilitator to be their best selves at work.
What a brilliant invitation for someone just starting their career.
And a great reminder for us all to think about how we can be our ‘best self’ more of the time.
Get in touch and take the next step to being your brilliant self.