Ready, Set, Go! How to Show Up as Your Best SelfAug 09, 2022
If you’ve ever watched a professional athlete dominate in a big matchup, you know what it means to bring your “A game.” Showing up as your best self, whether you’re on the basketball court, in the boardroom, or on a Zoom call, is a combination of attitude and preparation. You can’t have one without the other. All the confidence in the world and no idea what’s going on won’t get you very far. At the same time, preparation without the right delivery falls flat.
As a business owner, I think about this idea often because our team is constantly aiming to balance both service and scale. We never want to take on so many clients that our team loses the ability to show up for them and serve them well. At the same time, if we don’t prioritize efficiency, too, we’ll miss out on the opportunity to help all the people we can. So what does it look like for me, personally, to bring my A game?
While of course I always have room to grow, I’ve landed on four key principles that have consistently enabled me to show up to client engagements both prepared and confident. Try them out for yourself and experience the potential you have when you bring your A game to your work.
I’d venture to guess that you’re a pretty busy person. I feel you. I know what it’s like to be go-go-go. While it might seem counterintuitive, there’s always room to offload some of your preparation work. Consider what parts of your meeting or client prep process you can hand off to someone on your team.
For me, my incredible Administrative Coordinator, Cathy, is critical to helping me stay organized and get up to speed for every call. Each week, she looks at the days ahead and prepares a note entry for each meeting on my calendar. These entries typically include the day and time of the meeting, the frame of the conversation, any special notes from the calendar, how I met the person, and any true/false questions I typically ask at the top of the call, such as “How are you on time today?” Delegating this portion of meeting preparation has been a game changer. Although only I can make sure I’m up to speed for every call, having a teammate start the process saves me time and puts me ahead by several key steps.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re ready for each client meeting is to simplify your preparation process. You should be able to replicate each step simply and access all the information you need easily. If your ideal preparation process takes hours and a headache to complete, odds are, you won’t do it all the way every time. Even if it means taking half a day to organize your system or categorize your notes in a way that makes sense, do it! You’ll thank yourself later and more than make up for the time you spent streamlining your process in quicker, easier client preparation.
Personally, I’ve landed on a process using Evernote, a note taking app. Instead of creating a new note for every meeting, I organize my notes by client. Then, I add to the new entry Cathy creates at the top of each client note during my calls. This allows me to quickly reference any prior calls or engagements I’ve had with a client on the fly. Even if our last conversation was over a year ago, I can easily reference my entire history of communication with a client. Having everything in one place helps jog my memory if it’s been a while.
In the throes of a great conversation, especially one that involves many different stakeholders or decision makers, it can be easy to get sidetracked away from the purpose of the meeting. To stay on track, identify the primary purpose of your engagement, and structure your agenda around the goal or goals you want to accomplish.
I always create a section toward the top of my meeting entry that says, “What questions do I need answered?” and “What questions does this person need answered?” That way, I can keep my eye on priority topics and assess the need for another call or a service after the call. By highlighting key questions and answers, I also find it easier to send a recap after the conversation with a list of what we covered and what we still need to accomplish together.
Just like an athlete reacting to the demands of a game, showing up as your best self requires you to be nimble. Beware of overpreparation that limits your ability to be present in the moment. Sometimes, you might have an unexpected person or two in your call. A need might have shifted with your client or prospect. The plan you prepared to present needs to change due to some other constraint. It happens! Don’t beat yourself up for not anticipating every possibility. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is ditch the plan and adapt to whatever you hear in the moment.
Recently, I joined a follow-up call with a prospective client and realized quickly that the team was not in a position for me to help them yet. There were too many other projects in process and too much internal change at hand for me to execute the right plan for them. Instead of pushing the agenda I had prepared, I just decided to be honest with them. I told them I didn’t think it was the right time to hire me, and we could always pick up again down the road. Not only was this admission met with relief and agreement, it also strengthened my trust with the team. I’m confident we’ll meet again someday when the time is right.
Whether you’re a solopreneur, a project manager, an executive, a recruiter, or a financial advisor, you have numerous opportunities every week to show up as your best self. Don’t settle for being mediocre or add stress to your life with unnecessarily complex preparation. Instead, try these principles for yourself, and see what you can do when you delegate, simplify, prioritize, and adapt. You’re going to shine; I just know it!
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