As a gymnastics coach, I help athletes come up with “cues” to say before each skill that emphasize finer points to achieve the result they want. Take balance beam for example, some athletes have a technical cue they say to themselves, such as “push through my legs” or “jump” before their flipping series. Other athletes have emotional cues, such as “patience” or “aggressive” before executing the skill. I believe life can be broken down into a series of cues that will help us live a fulfilling and happy life.
Understand that those two words Fulfilling and Happy will mean different things to different people. To think that there is a One Cue Fits All philosophy is inane. Part of the fun of life is figuring out what Life Cues help me have fulfilling and happy days; and when is it time to change my cues.
As a coach, it is vitally important to communicate with our athletes to make sure the cue is resonating with them in a way to produce positive results. The most vivid memory I have of this is working with 2001-2004 UCLA gymnast, Yvonne Tousek, on beam. She was super consistent, but always had a slight knee bend in her back handspring and layout step out. I tried a ton of different cues: “Jump through your legs,” “Split later,” “Push through your feet,” “Aggressive set”… Finally, one meet she executed the skill perfectly.
When I asked her what she told herself before the skill she said, “I simply said, Strong Legs.” Even though the cues I had given her were meant to accomplish the same thing, nothing resonated with her until she came up with her own cue.
That was a great life lesson for me, thanks Yvi!
In my life I work to find the right cues. For example, when heading into a meeting with one of our coaches, knowing we’re going to discuss a touchy subject, I used to coach myself up by saying, “I know I’ve thought this through and I believe I’m right so I can’t be afraid to stand up for what I believe is best for the team.” That cue immediately puts me on the defensive… not a good place to start a conversation, especially a sensitive one. I have since shifted my cue to, “Listen.” In order to execute that cue I understand I need to silence my brain when the other person is talking. That cue immediately establishes a “Let’s figure this out as to what’s best for the team” emotion versus “I’m going to explain to you why I’m right” statement. The entry of the conversation based on a simple cue makes a big difference in the outcome.
The biggest cue shift I’ve made is one I’ve discussed in a past Musing: “I Get To vs. I Have To.” Changing my inner dialogue by one word for everything I encounter has totally shifted my emotions, intentions, and actions. Try it and let me know what you think.
Since I love constantly learning about this awesome adventure called Life, please share one (or some) of your life cues that have worked toward furthering your inner barometer of fulfillment and happiness.