Don't Think, React.

Monday Night Football featured an overtime game between the Colts and the Panthers, though up until the 4th quarter it was anything but close. Colts quarterback and former Stanford star Andrew Luck threw three interceptions and a lot of errant passes in the 23-26 loss to Carolina.

As we watched Luck struggle in the pocket over the first 2 quarters my friend’s Dad said, “Come on Luck – it’s a reaction game, you can’t think too much.”

Don’t think. React.

Last week I was at UC San Diego to give two workshops on communication. Prior to the first workshop I was out in the hallway with my notecards, reviewing key points and running through the slides of my PowerPoint presentation one more time. Prior to the second workshop later that day, I spent my time watching the women’s basketball team scrimmage instead of rehearsing yet again.

The first workshop was technically good. The second was one of the best I’ve ever given.

Don’t think. React.

Lately I’ve been curious about this dichotomy between thinking vs. reacting. Years ago during my training as an integral coach my mentor challenged me to “prepare less and show up more.” As a younger person in the coaching profession I felt that being fully prepared was my only ticket to being taken seriously and seen as a professional. I liked the idea of being present, of showing up more, but to “prepare less” felt scary and somewhat irresponsible.

Don’t think. React.

For the first 3 quarters you could literally watch Andrew Luck process each of his reads in an effort to make the best decision. The Colts scored only 6 points prior to the 4th quarter and 17 points during the 4th in part because Luck no longer had time to think. Hurry-up play after hurry-up play forced Luck out of his head and into the present moment where the only thing that existed is what was happening NOW.

I was prepared for my first workshop, but like Luck I struggled to find a rhythm that felt smooth and my overall performance was average. For the second workshop I resisted the urge to rehearse again and trusted that if I could commit to just showing up, that would be enough. I stopped thinking, and the result was incredible! 

Don’t think. React.

As people we spend so much time in our heads – planning for the future, re-living the past, pondering, wondering, worrying, imagining. Knowing that life is largely a reaction game, how would things play out if we made a conscious effort to think less and show up more?

Enjoy the game, and cheers to showing up!