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Improving Individual Performance

The Olympics are a fascinating study in human performance.  Young men and women assemble from every corner of the globe to test their skill on the world stage.  They have sacrificed for many years to earn the very brief opportunity to prove they are the best in the world at their sport.  Then, the moment comes.  The whistle blows. The gate opens.  Now is their time to shine.

 


In the moment of truth, some athletes get dense. They seem to try too hard. They get nervous. They are tight and their moves are pressured.  The anxiety overwhelms them and they choke.  Despite their talent and years of practice, they commit some fatal error and fail to medal.

Others become enlightened.

The pressure is on, and yet they look like they are having the time of their lives. They seem relaxed; almost as if they are practicing their moves in their own backyard.  They don’t seem to notice the crowd.  They seem unaffected by the glamor and potential glory of a flawless performance in the Olympics. Their ability to handle stress well seems to produce positive results.

Research has proven there is a “sweet spot” with regard to anxiety.  Too little anxiety can cause indifference and reduce motivation to try your best. Too much motivation causes us to choke. Whether it is the giant slalom or the critical sales presentation, managing anxiety is a skill that benefits each of us.

 

Here are some tips on managing anxiety in order to improve your performance:

  1. Keep things in perspective.  It is easy to make too much of almost any opportunity.  Rarely, if ever, will your life hinge on one event. We all tend to exaggerate the importance of things.  The mistake that feels so humiliating to us is not remembered by anyone else. The victory that seemed so pivotal is quickly forgotten.
  2. Stay focused on the present.  Many people hold on to their mistakes from the past. The past intrudes into the present magnifying the importance of the current opportunity. Or, we worry too much about what victory in the present will mean for our future.  Bringing worry from the past or the future creates excessive burden for optimal performance in the present.  Life is an almost endless series of opportunities.  Focus completely on the one at hand.
  3. Have fun in everything you do.  There is so much value in working in positive energy.  You are at your best when you are having fun. And, if you focus on having fun you will find that it isn’t that difficult.  Consider ways you can elevate the fun you are having in everything you do in the day.
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Life is so short.  Despite the importance we place on our lives, they will soon be over and we will quickly be forgotten. All of our stuff will be given to others.  All we have done will drift away.  That being the case, we can treat life more as if it is a game.  We can relax into it and enjoy the ride.

Working for a place of joy and happiness will boost your performance.  Perhaps even more importantly, it will increase your satisfaction. It starts with refusing to allow your mind to freeze up and become dense as a rock.  Stay open.  Stay positive. Don’t be a dense leader. And most importantly, have fun!

Did you ever experience the sweet feeling of relaxed confidence when preparing for a major performance?  Let us know in the comments below.

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About Jack Skeen

Jack Skeen
Jack Skeen, founder of Skeen Leadership, has been coaching bright and successful leaders for close to two decades, spending thousands of hours addressing every imaginable leadership, business and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

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