My Dad and I walked to school together. He was the high school principal at the same school I attended. This was not always easy, but that is another story.
My father was always motivated and excited to go to work. As we headed to school together, my morning attitude did not always match his excitement. I did not dislike school, but I did not always start our morning walk with his overwhelming enthusiasm. Nevertheless, our walk-talks were upbeat and optimistic, and by the time we got to school, I was pretty happy and excited about the day in front of me.
In a natural and authentic way, Dad touched on local issues, “Aren’t we lucky to have a school full of great teachers who really enjoy teaching?” or sometimes on more global topics like, “We are so fortunate to live during peacetime and can go about our lives in a normal way.” (Dad had enlisted in the U.S Marine Corp, served in Korea, and did not talk much about the war other than to remind me how beautiful peacetime was.)
Later I realized these were my early experiences with the power of priming. Priming is the conscious act of creating space and adjusting our thoughts and emotions to our “best state.” These walks with my father shaped my perception that the day in front of me was something to look forward to, and my immediate future felt attractive and positive.
Priming time is more important today than ever before. Looking back, I only had to deal with morning messages from the radio and the newspaper. Today, the smart phone and the internet can easily pollute your priming time if you are not intentional about it.
The leadership teams I advise, and coach are under a great deal of pressure, and everyone wants a piece of their time, so I share some priming triggers the day before an executive off-site to help these leaders get themselves in the right state of mind, such as:
-Why is this going to be a very effective leadership off-site for me, and for us, this week?
-How can I participate to make our off-site a success, and help others get what they need?
-What specifically do I need to contribute or get from this session for it to be effective and worthwhile for me?
How about you – what does the first 30 to 60 minutes of your day look like? What priming practices enable you, and those around you, to play at their best?
Image by Pedro Antonio Salaverria at Dreamstime