In the movie For the Love of the Game, Kevin Costner plays a Detroit Tigers pitcher throwing a no-hitter. On top of that, it’s the last game of his career. As he defeats one batter after another, he finds himself straying from focus, so he turns to a self-developed mental technique. He says to himself, “Clear the mechanism.” With that phrase, he’s saying that all the noise and commotion surrounding him in the stadium must take a back seat to his concentration on the game, the batter and his next pitch. In other words, he creates a mental clearing that gives him the best chance to succeed.
Years later, during the TV show “Last Comic Standing,” Jay Leno was among the celebrity comedians brought to coach the up-and-coming comics. He explained how important it was to deliver his monologue in peak form. He said that if he had an argument with his wife, was cross with someone on his staff or was otherwise perturbed about some situation, he’d resolve the issue before going on the air. If he didn’t resolve the situation, Leno said, he risked subconsciously reflecting on it during his monologue and didn’t give the audience his best work. Similarly, in meeting planning, we can do a better job if we “clear the mechanism.” Like Leno, we should resolve small issues that might otherwise, even in the most minuscule way, impair our performance when interacting with others.
Are you ready?
Leno’s insight has certainly affected my work. I have used his wisdom and wouldn’t trade anything for the “clearings” I’ve been able to create and the accomplishments that have resulted. What issues do you need to clear up — right now — so that you’re mentally free to be your best? Often, the answer is abundantly clear, because it is the issue that you are stewing over. Coming to terms with the issue, calling the other party and resolving it offers a double win. You get to move on from this road bump in your day, and you’re better positioned to be at your most productive.