I am not one for loud emotional displays in public.
That’s why I was a bit bewildered when I found myself staring down the barrel of high-fives and being asked to cheer enthusiastically first thing on Monday morning.
This week the famous life coach Tony Robbins flew his top business coaches from America to Manchester to speak to BusinessCloud and the UKFast team.
The theme of the workshop was ‘Story, State, Strategy’ and whatever the coaches are doing it worked, because they managed to whip up a bunch of Brits (and several other nationalities) into a decidedly un-British state first thing in the morning.
The name of the game was about improving our mindset and productivity, both in business and our personal lives, and setting realistic goals for the future.
One of the first things the team did was ask us to walk around and greet someone we didn’t know as we would a close friend we hadn’t seen in years – hugs and all – then greet someone else as if we weren’t bothered about them in the slightest.
Afterwards a lot of people said the second activity made them uncomfortable and they’d never act like that in real life. The coach asked them if they were sure about that, while pretending to scroll through his phone.
I immediately thought back to the half-conversations I’d had with friends and family in the past while one of us was on our phones.
While tech wasn’t a particular theme of the day it’s true that it’s going to have an impact on our stories, states and strategies – and on how we change them.
Story was the first thing we talked about, which in this case means the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. If it’s negative it can hold us back and if it’s empowering it can push us forward.
For example, one story that lots of us probably tell ourselves is that we can’t survive without our phones.
After we’d decided what our stories had been and what we wanted them to be – yes, changing your story is that easy – we talked about state, which is the mental and emotional filter that everything in our lives goes through.
State has a huge influence on the story we tell ourselves because if we’re not in a good place the story is probably going to be a negative one.
While it can get a bad rap, tech is actually a quick way to influence our state for the better, like looking up something funny on YouTube or calling a friend.
Using social media could also make us feel good by helping us feel connected to a big group of friends.
Finally we talked about how to find personal strategies which will help you achieve your goals.
Tech is often part of our daily strategies, whether that’s using it to keep yourself occupied while you’re waiting for someone or to make more business connections on social media.
Tech is such a big part of our lives it seems an obvious part of our story, state and strategy – but are there benefits to approaching them without it too?
One of the easiest ways to change our state – and hopefully put ourselves in a good mood – is to change our physiology.
Moving around, sitting up straighter or standing up and raising your arms are some of the fastest ways to make yourself feel better.
This can be hard to do if we’re glued to a phone and, more often than most of us would like to admit, ignoring the world around us.
Changing your state could also help change the story that you rely on tech. By becoming more conscious about using tech, the story becomes ‘I am in charge of my phone’.
A strategy to achieve this could be to keep your phone face down on your desk so you aren’t distracted when it lights up or feel tempted to check it constantly.
However the coaches also explained that it’s easy to forget there are lots of different strategies for most things – there’s more than one way to skin a cat – so it’s about finding the ones that work for you.
If you still find yourself reaching for your phone every five minutes then just try another strategy like putting it in your bag or turning it off during the day.
At the end of the day we all wrote down our negative stories on one side of the board and positive stories on the other. We then lined up and broke the boards with our hands – something which I never thought my weedy arms would be able to do!
While I’m never going to be one for high-fiving first thing in the morning, the key things I took away from the workshop was that I’m in control of my state and story, and that they’re surprisingly easy to change when I don’t like them.
For me feeling more connected and putting myself in a better state of mind doesn’t mean getting rid of tech but being more conscious about it could definitely help.
I’m also going to try different strategies to get to that point. But when I need to watch a YouTube video of Pizza Rat I’m not going to beat myself up either.