I was recently on a walk with my dogs when we came across some pheasants. Immediately, the dogs were on alert, ears forward, tails up and every sinew of their body on alert ready for hunting. A few seconds later the birds flew off, and the dogs calmed down and went back to their normal state. As I watched them I could see how “alive” they were – they were dogs at their best operating on instinct in their natural environment.
So how often do you find yourself in environments when you are operating at your best?
In my work as a Coach I know what type of environments bring out the best in me and my clients. Recently I worked with one organisation on a reflective activity and a large meeting room would have helped to instil a mindset of openness and possibility. Instead we were in a cramped room which was overheated, and felt more like working in a greenhouse, but with little space for us to flourish! Despite the heat, the participants enjoyed the session because they were able to ignore the environment and focus on what we were discussing. I have also had some of my best coaching sessions in busy cafes where the energy in the environment helps the client to get motivated. Also taking clients outside for a coaching walk can be hugely motivating for them, as it is for me.
As a speaker the room where events are held can have a major impact on how presentations are received and the vibe that is created. It is always better to have a cosy feel than a few people in a large room. Long thin rooms rarely work especially if the speaker is put at one end of the room. On one occasion I was speaking at the banqueting facilities which were part of a motor racing circuit. Cars were out on the track and every time they came past the conference room, all the audience ignored the presentation and looked out the window. It was very off-putting. In order to hold their attention I had to make sure that what I was saying was more interesting than what was going on outside.
Managing yourself in any environment
The reality is that for many reasons the environments in which we work every day are not ideal for the tasks that we have to accomplish. But that does not mean that we have to operate at less than we are capable of achieving. What we can control is our how we think about that environment. Its our choice what we say to ourselves, and how we program our mind. Being able to achieve our best in any location is what can make the difference. It does not matter to the dogs I mentioned earlier whether it is raining, sunny, cold or hot: the moment they see a pheasant they behave instinctively. So remember that regardless of where you are, find a way to bring out the best in you by focusing on what you can control.