I have been watching tennis from Wimbledon today. You may not be interested in tennis but I rather like the dramatic tension of it all and the way that games can swing from one player to the other. Confidence and calmness under pressure are key features of a winning mentality.
Surely one of the finest players the world has ever seen is Rafael Nadal from Majorca, Spain. At thirty six, he is coming to the end of his career now but he remains a battler and a winner- so passionate about the game he loves and eager to win every point.
When delivering hundred mile an hour serves or receiving them, a player needs to be souped up and ready. At these moments you will see Rafael Nadal touching his face lightly in several places. It's a kind of preparation routine - getting himself in the right mental place to do his job. Other players have different habits in these key moments.
It made me think that we all have different mannerisms - not just in sport but in everyday life too. We don't decide to have them, they just come to us and they are hard to suppress or change.
When conversing with others I have always thought it to be pretty important to look at each other, make eye contact. I don't mean fixed stares because that would be unnatural and unsettling but at least in western cultures it is normal to show respect by looking at who we are speaking to.
However, this causes me to reflect on one of my own mannerisms.
Very often when I am deep in conversation with others and I am perhaps trying to express a difficult point or recall a tangled memory of yore, I look away from the person or people I am talking to, focusing perhaps on a curtain or fireplace. I find this helps me to better concentrate on what I am saying and to be honest I just can't help it. I have always done it.
It is usually surprising when the listener stops looking at me and instead follows my eye line to that curtain, that fireplace or that window. I can read their thoughts in such moments - "What's he looking there for?" and "Why have we lost eye contact?" Sometimes I stop the conversation at that point to explain or apologise.
Does this sound familiar to you? Perhaps it's just me.