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Optimal Performance Doesn't Require Perfection

Optimal Performance Doesn’t Require Perfection

I have been writing my blog for over a year, and this is the first time I haven’t been sure what to write about. Normally something stands out during the week, and I make a mental note to write about it. This week my brain has been foggy. When I reflected on this, I realized my mood has been lower than usual. I think this may be related to the Ketogenic diet I started last Sunday.

 

I began the diet because I have put on about twenty pounds over the past year. This is very unusual for me and seems to coincide with the beginnings of menopause. My decision to make a shift in my diet was affirmed when I was hiking last week and a fellow woman hiker excitedly came up to me and congratulated me on being pregnant! I was shocked, but she was horrified when I told her I had just put on weight. Awkward! The upside for me was realizing I looked young enough to be pregnant!

 

I have been intrigued by the Ketogenic diet since learning about it from Tim Ferriss through listening to his interviews with Dom D’Agostino and Peter Attia, and by watching Peter Attia’s Ted Talk. It seemed a good fit for me given my blood sugar levels have not been being optimal. I decided to give it a try, hence the brain fog and low mood. I understand this can occur the first week or so during the body’s adjustment phase.

 

What was refreshing for me was realizing that I had not even noticed that my mood had been lower the past week until I thought about it. I had been doing work and performing well. However, when I took the time to look back, I realized there were some tell tale signs. I was overly critical when giving my daughter feedback on the rough draft of her essay. This led to fireworks. Maternal criticism and teenage PMS are like lighting a match around nitroglycerin. [On a side note, I do wonder what my husband’s karma is having two teenage daughters while his wife is going through “the change”.]

 

In the past, I would have been hypersensitive to my low mood. I would have perceived it as a problem, and through the lens of my distorted, low mood thinking, I would have judged myself as not good enough. What I am noticing now is that I did not beat myself up over the blow up with my daughter. I did feel guilty afterwards. I am glad I felt this way because this shows I have a conscience. I realized it was a parenting low rather than a parenting high. It is important for me to be able to make that distinction, and, while this is accurate, I was still doing the best I could in that moment. It is not the best that I am capable of, but it was me doing my best at the time.

 

This distinction came up at a corporate training I did last week. I made the point that we as humans are always doing the best we can in each moment based on what we perceive and understand. This does not mean that in each moment we will be performing at our optimum capacity. As human beings, our mood goes up and down, our level of understanding goes up and down, and our performance will vary. We are not robots. The nature of our design does not allow us to perform flat out with consistent, increasing, optimal performance.

 

We all have good, bad, and medium days. The good news is that it doesn’t matter. The fluctuation of our performance does not get in the way of our overall peak performance. When a manager asked about her employees not always do their best, and suggested they could be lazy at times, I pointed her in the direction of seeing that human behavior always reflects our understanding in the moment. We do the best we can with that understanding. Bad behavior always makes sense at the time we do it, even if a moment later we ask ourselves, “What was I thinking?”. Sometimes our best is bad behavior, like me with my daughter.

 

When we make room for variability in our understanding and our behavior, we have more resilience. We bounce back quicker. When we perceive people or ourselves as not good enough because of our bad behavior, it is a painful judgment. We then look at the behavior through the lens of wrongness. It becomes a problem that needs to be fixed rather than an opportunity to get curious and see beyond the behavior.

 

When we are neutral, and not in the business of wrong making,
we can check to see if our expectations are realistic.

 

In my case, I had unreasonable expectations about my daughter’s essay writing. I reacted to my expectations not being met in an unkind way.

 

When we let go of unrealistic expectations, we can meet the other person where they are at. We can see what she is capable of. We will naturally have compassion and understanding. We will be able to meet her, human to human, with empathy. There will be room for her doing the best she can in that moment, even if the best at that time is not her highest potential. From this perspective, we have room to hear what she is up against, and approach her with kindness. We would have an open mind, and be able to see how we might be of real support to her. This would make her much more inclined to be willing to work together to figure things out, than if she felt she was being judged.

 

This is what has been different for me this past week. I wasn’t caught up judging myself. I wasn’t self-absorbed, constantly monitoring myself to see how I was doing. As a result, I didn’t notice my low mood. I did step across some subjective lines I set for myself telling me how I should behave, but probably less so than if I had been hyper-focused on behaving well. Also, when I put myself under my judgmental scrutiny, it takes me longer to bounce back from a mistake. I would have spent more time feeling not good enough. This would likely ensue a downward spiral of negative thinking about myself that is hard to come back from.

 

I am looking forward to the brain fog dissipating and to feeling the even energy promised from the Ketogenic diet. However, no matter how that plays out, I am grateful for seeing how relatively painless a low mood can be compared to how I used to experience them. I am less caught up in dissecting myself and more able to simply be me in whatever form I show up in.

 

I love knowing that me being me is enough — low mood and all, and I don’t need to manage myself. This frees up energy so that I function better even when I am not at my best, and interestingly enough,
I perform better overall.
 

Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. She helps individuals, couples, and professionals to connect more fully with their true nature so they can experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. Her years as a therapist give her significant insight regarding the impact and importance of state of mind on fulfilling potential. She supports her clients with achieving success both personally and professionally. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, www.rohiniross.com.

1 Comment

  • Louise Parrott

    03.10.2016 at 03:20 Reply

    Dearest Rohini

    I loved reading your observations this morning, when I gave myself permission to stop, sit down and read you . Your ability to make your point so effectively and read beneath the lines is a gift. You help me understand myself through your own experience.

    Spookily .. at the age of 56 , having been “weight in proportion to height” all my life and never been on any kind of diet ..
    ,14 unwanted pounds have quite suddenly appeared that simply will not shift .
    Of course, I realise that this was not what your blog was about, nevertheless, I identify with your content.
    my 12 yr old daughter also read her essay to me this weekend, which , ( unlike you ! ) I was so impressed by , because, never having written an essay in my life.. I felt real awe for her use of vocabulary and perception.

    I need that diet please.. before someone is stupid enough to ask me when I am due !
    ( and Of course you look young enough! )

    Love
    Louise x

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