By Sunny Simon

One of my favorite clients is a busy entrepreneur who does a significant amount of networking throughout the valley. Her calendar is loaded with mixers, meetings and other events that keep her on the go practically seven days per week. Granted, she is an extremely high-energy, upbeat individual, but I know that at times weariness sets in and she would rather just hunker down to watch a ballgame with her husband or curl up with a great book. Curious as to how she maintains the momentum, I implored her to share the secret. It’s all about attitude is the answer. Employing the mantra “bring your own weather to the picnic,” a quote made popular by author Harlan Coben, my client spends a moment in preparation prior to entering the event.

We can all take a page from her book and share in the picnic philosophy. Think about a recent dreaded calendar commitment. Mentally rewind the event and take an honest look at your behavior. Did you drag yourself through the front door with a half-hearted plastic smile on your face? While in attendance were you checking your watch every ten minutes wondering when it would be acceptable to make a mad dash for the exit? Are you guilty of eye-rolling while an agenda item ricocheted around the room in debate? That kind of action is akin to bringing your own ants to the picnic. Determined not to enjoy and actively participate in the event, you sabotaged any chance of adding any value or receiving any in return. My guess is we have all done that from time to time.

Let’s take the same dreaded event and create a new script. This time we will practice a little self-talk as a preventative to ensuring a positive experience. Why is the event on your calendar? I am assuming you have a valid reason for agreeing to participate. Perhaps the problem arose when the meeting fell at the end of a day that found you suffering severe exhaustion induced by jumping through hoops to meet a deadline on a rush project. Take a breath. Acknowledge that you must honor your commitment. Observe silence for a full five minutes. Just let your mind float to a happier place. Now begin to conger up three valid reasons to make the most of the experience. It might be the opportunity to learn something new, meet an interesting person and chime in on an important decision. Employ this strategy and you are ready to attend the picnic equipped fair skies and no ants. Have fun!