It's a special time of year in the world of American football. The NFL playoffs are underway and the collegiate football national championship is this evening.
As a Brown's fan, obviously I am thrilled about their strong regular season, playoff birth, and unbelievable playoff win last night. And as a former football player and sport psychologist at Ohio State (and 2002 member of the national championship team), I am pumped, though not completely surprised, by their opportunity to compete for a national championship.
Which got me thinking...
A couple years ago I would have just been happy if the Browns had a record above .500. The goal at that time was to have, and survive, a decent regular season. That was enough to bring satisfaction.
Fast forward a couple years, and now, based on some strong regular seasons, there is an expectation and desire for the Browns to do more. Rather than simply having a good season, the focus now is to make it to the playoffs.
The Buckeyes on the other hand. It is expected that they are going to have a fantastic regular season. And since the College Football Playoffs are so limited in the teams they select, it is also a full on expectation that the Buckeyes make it not only to the playoffs, but to the championship. Hence, the focus is solely to make it to the national championship every year, and hopefully, occasionally, win. However for the Browns, I could't expect them to be a Superbowl caliber team...yet. But they could get there.
So whats the point of all this?
We all live our lives, and at various times of our lives, in regular season, playoff, and championship modes. And despite a lot of performance psychologists and life coaches encouraging folks to live a life in championship mode all the time, the reality is that that's not the reality for all of us all of the time.
So let's take a look at all three:
Sometimes we are in Regular Season mode. A mode where it's all about survival. Staying healthy. Just getting through with a decent record. It would be overwhelming to consider a playoff birth or a championship. During these "regular season" times we may need to embrace our gratitude for what we have, manage our stress appropriately, and do what we need to do to make it through.
Another way of viewing regular season mode is that of someone who is just content with less. A musician who simply wants to play beachside cafes. Or an employee who forgoes management to remain in the cozy day-to-day role. Again, nothing wrong with this mode, and though it may change over the course of life, its focus is on simplicity.
In summary, Regular Season mode is known for survival...or simplicity.
Sometimes we are in Playoff mode. It's no longer good enough to just survive, we want to take things to the next level. Maybe we want to grow in our work, add on to our family, or make some other change that amplifies the stakes a little. Or perhaps we just want to push ourselves a bit more. Try a new thing. Take on a new task. Stretch ourselves. Some folks live a lot of their life in this mode, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's a requirement for a good life. But it is exciting.
In summary, Playoff mode is about growth.
Finally, there is the Championship mode. This is the time for maximizing. Putting all the chips in on a particular endeavor. Focus and intensity are high and the goal is to reach the pinnacle of whatever pursuit you're facing. Examples of this might be taking your career to the highest title possible or growing a business to the point of selling. A musician may move to Nashville, an Actor to LA, or a dancer to New York. In all examples, the individuals are aiming to fulfill their craft or task to its highest level.
In summary, Championship mode is about maximization.
So where are you?
In general, do you feel like you are operating in regular season, playoff, or championship mode?
Does it vary in certain aspects of your life? For instance, are you in championship with family, but regular season with work? Does it differ? How?
Finally, would you like your life, or areas within it, to be different? Is it time to move from regular season to playoff? Or from playoff back to regular season?
I think it's important to consider where you are at in life and where would you like to be. There is nothing wrong with any of these modes and there are a variety of variables that influence one's ability or desire to be in a particular mode at a particular time. Though I argue we always have choice over the matter. For some, there are legitimate obstacles that make operating in certain modes more difficult.
But difficult does not mean impossible.
Perhaps you're in a situation where you need to talk out the mode of life you are in. Maybe you want to change it. Or maybe you want to give yourself permission to sit in it. Regardless, those thoughts can rattle around in your head and heart and cause some anxiety if not let out into the open air.
Performance Coaching offers that open air.
So if you're feeling in the mood to talk about your mode, reach out. A good coach can help you in whatever mode you're in...be it Regular Season, Playoff, or Championship.
Go Browns and Go Buckeyes!
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