Bringing the best version of yourself …

You have probably heard the phrase ‘bring your “A game”‘. It reflects the idea that we can turn up in different states of preparedness and intention, and that this affects the outcomes.
Showing up as the best version of yourself takes time and focus, and is not really possible when you are rushing from one thing to another with a lot on your mind. Therefore, to enable people to be the best they can be in your meeting, it is essential that we make time at the start of each meeting for them to gain that focus.

We are not talking here about completing previous actions, and undertaking any pre-reading, and pre-work. These things are vitally important to meeting effectiveness, but they should be done well before the meeting not in the last few minutes before people turn up (or worse still, quickly scanning them as the meeting gets under way).
What we are talking about here is about taking a few minutes quiet time immediately before the meeting for people to marshal and manage their thoughts and emotions, and to ready themselves to engage 100% with the opportunities to add value that the meeting presents.
Part of this readiness involves what is known as ‘monitoring your inner condition’ – which version of ‘you’ (see the diagram on the right) are you bringing to the meeting?
When we are under pressure, it is all too easy to lapse into a cynical, judgmental reaction to what is said and seen, but this slows everything down and creates a barrier to the engagement, creativity and diversity of others. However, all to often we are not fully aware that we are in this condition and do not recognise the impact we are having.
A couple of minutes of quiet time enables us to take our attention inside of ourselves, quell the pressures (if only for a short while) and deliberately decide to respond with curiosity and compassion. It gives us the space to centre ourselves – to reconnect with our identity in all that is going on around us. Some people use the time for prayer – to give them the perspective and humility they are seeking – but people can use whatever works for them.
If you have never done this before at the start of one of your meetings (and if it is not in your general meeting culture) the situation will almost certainly benefit from a few words of explanation. This could be as simple as: I recognise that people probably have a lot on their minds, so I would just like us to take one minute of silence to allow us all to just settle ourselves, quieten our minds, and focus on the meeting in front of us. Is that okay with everyone?
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you could try an instructed exercise along the following lines (read this slowly and calmly):
We have probably all arrived with quite a few things on our minds, so we are just going to take a few moments to ready ourselves for this meeting. Please sit perfectly upright, with the soles of your feet firmly placed on the floor and your palms placed downward on the desk in front of you, close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly. [Pause] Take a few moments, to feel the desk under your palms, and the floor under your feet, and to become aware of the air moving in and out of your lungs. [Pause] Focus on this until you have your thoughts under control and you can feel at peace. [Longer pause] Now, still in that position with your eyes closed, consider the meeting ahead, and the people in it, and what you might do to bring out the best in each one of them. Just reflect on that for a few moments, remaining calm and at peace, and when you are ready, please open your eyes.
If your organisation has begun to adopt Otto Scharmer’s  work on meaningful conversation and presencing, you might use some of this thinking to augment the above.
For further information on the use of this sort of technique, please take a look at the following articles:

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