Today, I am traveling (like many of you) and I'm struck by the common occurrence of being whacked by another traveler’s backpack or purse. Whether it’s trying to negotiate through the restroom, maneuvering into my slotted position to enter the plane, or sitting in an aisle seat during the loading process, it seems it is impossible to avoid getting hit or even hitting others with the bags we carry on our backs and shoulders. As I pondered on why this occurs and how we have lost the self-awareness of how our bags impede on other’s space, I was struck by the thought that this parallels the mental backpack we all also carry.
As we go through life and we gather our experiences (good, bad, and indifferent), we tend to accumulate “stuff”. We carry this mental stuff with us and it unconsciously impacts every interaction we have. It creeps into our mindset and creates biases, prejudices, and opinions without us even knowing about it. Sometimes our bags even get so heavy that they lead to back, neck, and shoulder problems. Sometimes we swing our bags with such fervor that we really hurt those around us. When we know our bag has struck someone, we probably (hopefully) apologize. But how many people do we bump into and we are completely unaware?
Sitting here in my aisle seat, I am reflecting on what my bag holds today and how it may be holding me back from thinking clearly, from focusing on my true priorities, or even reaching out to the rude person across from me who is literally in tears when his suitcase doesn’t fit into the overhead bin. My initial reaction is one of judgment and impatience with the way he speaks to the flight attendant and his sense of entitlement in expecting everyone on the plane to have somehow saved him a space for his bag. Is he really that rude or is that the story my brain is making up based on what I’m carrying in my bag?
Along the way, I sensed there was an open moment to smile at my fellow traveler and I softly commented on how stressful travel can be. He smiled back and commented on how he almost missed the flight and his dress uniform is in his suitcase so he didn’t want to check it at the gate. He is heading to a service for one of the guys from his army unit who was lost in Afghanistan and he can’t miss it. I shared my condolences, thanked him for his service, and reflected on how easy it is to confuse rudeness for panic and anxiety, especially if you are blinded by your own backpack.
Self-awareness, challenging our own biases and drama, forgiveness, reframing our self-talk, and being a learner with a passion for growth are all part of a High Performance Mindset. Is your backpack allowing you to develop these skills or is it blocking you?
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
By Scott Peltin
Founder // Chief Performance Officer