When we’re anticipating something that’s going to happen, we tell ourselves a story about what we think may occur.
I’m expecting it to be the most glorious day ever
I’m sure I’m going to have a terrible time
I’m afraid that when I give this presentation it will go horribly and I will be mortified
I’m excited to give this speech because it will be a smashing success and I’ll be world famous
Our stories and expectations aren’t really very helpful unless we acknowledge that they are just stories. The event hasn’t happened yet. What makes us come to the conclusion that the day will be glorious or terrible? What makes us expect the best or the worst? And more to the point, what control do we ourselves have over any of these circumstances?
When I’m coaching someone who is preparing a presentation or a speech, I encourage them to think clearly about what they imagine the best-case and worst-case scenarios to be. By thinking through the extremes, it’s easy to see that both scenarios are simply stories.
These stories are powerful, so let’s use them to our advantage. Knowing that we can affect how events unfold, ask: What do I want to create? What do I want to avoid? What elements of the experience can I anticipate and prepare for? What will make this experience worthwhile?