I attended a networking event in September to try to readjust to the pace of business life after a pleasantly distracting month of holiday in August. The speaker was one of my all-time favourite TV presenters, Louise Minchin, and I was looking forward to hearing about her new book ‘Fearless, Adventures with Extraordinary Women’.
Of course, what Louise had to say about the book, and the considerable exploits performed to create the contents of it, made for a great presentation for the audience to enjoy. But what struck me that night was not just the amazing content of the book but, perhaps surprisingly, a little phrase which Louise kept coming back to, which was ‘Don’t overthink it!’.
Talking about daunting interviews which she had conducted with a ridiculously high number of Prime Ministers over the years, Louise’s top tip for staying on top of the brief and delivering what was required was simply not to overthink the task.
Having had the chance to reflect on this, I think it resonated particularly with me, as I spend a great deal of time helping clients to get into the right frame of mind before attempting a difficult task. This is often a discussion with a difficult – or seemingly difficult client – whose behaviour is less than helpful. It’s very often useful to think of the Goldilocks analogy at this point and attempt to get your mental state ‘just right’ before you launch into the task, whatever it might be. In other words, don’t overthink it by all means, but equally don’t underthink it either – get your preparation done too!
Importantly, it’s good to remember that this is not a mathematical formula we’re discussing here – it’s a guide and it only makes sense insofar as it relates to you. The important thing is that the approach you take leaves you calm, in control of your thoughts and emotions and still wearing a contented smile on your face to give yourself the greatest chance of success, whatever that might mean for you, in that particular context.
Finding your sweet spot
The ‘golden mean’, as the Greek philosophers called it, may be a point between two extremes but it could be anywhere on that scale. You will know when you’re in that sweet spot, as your enthusiasm, confidence and hunger to perform, will be at their peak.
So, in danger now myself of ‘overthinking it’, I’m rushing off quickly to my next job – with a little more energy and a mental spring in my step purely for having talked this through with you. Thanks, Louise, for the timely reminder – I’ve just got to make that phrase work brilliantly for me over the long term as it clearly does for you!