A photo by Samuel Scrimshaw. unsplash.com/photos/sseiVD2XsOkI saw an interview with a career special operations officer recently and it brought home the importance of state.

State meaning our mental state, our attitude and mindset at a given time.  He made the point that while strategy and tactics are important, they don’t mean much if the person is not in the right state.  Success in his mind requires state, strategy and tactics. In that order.  In his world, the wrong state could mean serious injury or death.

This operator was talking about high risk special operations work, but I think his thinking also applies to the world of work.

For my clients I describe the optimal mental state as the Alpha state.  I describe the sub-optimal state as the beta state.  For any strategy or tactic to work, we must be in our most effective (Alpha) state and avoid slipping into our less effective (beta) state.

Consider a simple example: to grow the business an entrepreneur decides networking is a good strategy and on a tactical level he decides he will go to a specific professional networking chapter meeting.  Assuming that the strategy and tactics are good choices, it is still up in the air if it will be a successful activity.  To implement correctly the person needs to be in the right state.  If the person shows up in an overly assertive state of “I’ve got something to prove” they could come across as blustery and arrogant.  If the person shows up in an overly unassuming state of “I hope people like what I have to offer”, the person could come across as needy or unsure.

Other examples of work activities that require optimal state to have a positive impact on the business:

  • Coaching conversations with team members
  • Pitching ideas to upper-management
  • Absorbing 360 results and creating a coaching plan
  • Taking suggestions from a mentor
  • Offering an olive branch to a peer
  • Taking responsibility
  • Prioritizing work
  • Creating and communicating organizational changes

Have you experienced the positive (negative) impact of state on your activities at work?  What happened?