“How did it go?” “What score did you get?” “How did you do?” “Did it go well?”
Whenever I’m involved with something that has a performance aspect, I usually get asked one of the above questions. It isn’t news that we live in a very performance driven society. Whether it is the US school system, workplace, or sports teams (the list goes on and on) we are constantly evaluating performance-based outcomes.
Great performance isn’t a bad thing. It can be very invigorating to see something stellar, whether it be sports, a concert, or the latest Cirque du Soleil. These can inspire, entertain. Solid performance in the workplace can produce more, bring growth. Witnessing someone win an Olympic gold medal or employee of the year award is typically an exhilarating and inspiring experience for me!
However, I believe we have lost ourselves in performance. More specifically, we have lost our hearts (our feelings and emotions, wants, desires, and needs). We have gotten so tied up with how we do that we have completely neglected to check in with how we feel. When we ask how we feel, we are checking in with our hearts. This currently is not the priority in our society.
This matters. This matters A LOT, actually. I have a business where clients show me their broken hearts on a daily basis. It is an honor and a privilege to be in a position where people are so vulnerable with me. I do not take it for granted. Because I am in this position, I see WHY people are so broken hearted… why they are hurting, stressed, in pain, addicted, stuck. A HUGE part of the problem is neglecting what is TRULY in our hearts.
The state of the union… it isn’t pretty. In 2017, there were 47,173 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
HIGHEST IN 28 YEARS. Not to mention we have this opiate epidemic. What I am here to shed light on is the fact that no one, I mean no one, abuses drugs or ends their own life who is feeling deep love, joy, and connection. We have become so disconnected from heart. I worked in psychiatric hospitals for 7 years and now run this healing practice. I can tell you the common thread of anyone in this kind of pain is disconnection from their heart.
Look at Michael Phelps… the greatest swimmer of all time. In his performance prime, he almost ended his own life. In his 2016 interview he told NBC, “I took some wrong turns and ended up in some of the darkest places you could ever imagine… really not wanting to live.”
We praised this man for performance; but did we ever wonder if he actually enjoys swimming? Does he do it only because he is good at it? What if Michael Phelps really feels called to do tech start-up? I don’t know, but we don’t know if we don’t ask.
I have a proposition. This is for parents, coaches, friends, and any human really. What if we started to prioritize and ask, “So, how did it feel??!?” instead of, “So, how did it go?!?” I am not throwing out the baby with the bathwater here. Performance has a place, but I see our hearts as the priority. We have to consciously make them a priority again.
Last night I almost bailed on my musical performance. No, seriously. I almost texted my music teacher that I wasn’t coming. I decided to play “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd only last week, then learned it on piano in 7 days. It wasn’t perfect. I kept messing up certain note changes. Was I going to play this in front of people?!?
But then I checked myself. Why am I doing this? I remember back to high school when I did things more so because I was good at them. I would chose something I was good at more times than I would chose something my heart was curious about. I could feel my teenage self hurting when I almost cancelled. She and my heart just wanted to play Pink Floyd. It didn’t matter if I messed up the keys or missed a note. I just wanted to jam and have a good time. So I said f*** it and played.
I MESSED UP. Multiple times. It wasn’t perfect. People before and after me didn’t miss a beat. But when I was done I was genuinely smiling. I asked myself, “How did that feel?” Truly, it felt really good. It felt joyous, free. “How did it go?” It went OK.
The performance was OK, but my heart was happy. And when your heart is happy, what else matters?
My invitation is let’s start measuring joy as an outcome. Let’s make that the priority. Let’s get curious about what that looks like, and how that feels.
PS – If you want to learn more about how you can tap into your joy as an outcomes versus performance, click here.