Build up your mental bank account by getting into bed each night, reflecting on the time you spent in the field you want to excel in, and asking: “Where did I put forth quality effort today?” “What success did I have due to my effort?” “What progress did I make as a result of my effort?”
As you approach a performance with the sense that your mental bank account is loaded with memories of quality effort, success, and progress, you are ready to deliver a confident performance. Now, you need the right pre‐performance routine to trigger “complete confidence” and kill any nervous mental chatter. Dr. Nate Zinsser teaches his elite performers a simple three‐step pre‐performance routine called C-B-A: Cue your conviction: Come up with a phrase that helps you to fall in love with your performance butterflies and convert nervous energy into pure excitement. Answer the following question: What would you think to yourself in the moments before a competition if you were eager to show the world how great you were? In the book, a quarterback tells himself: “Do it like you know it!” A marathon runner tells herself: “Time to cruise!” Breathe your body: Work your breathing muscles by pushing down and into your belly as you inhale, and then up and in through your rib cage as you exhale. As you work your breathing muscles, you’ll feel in control of your mental state. And as Belisa Vranich writes in her book Breathing for Warriors, “Focusing on my breathing means that I can let my body tap into what it knows and has practiced without my brain interrupting.” Attach your attention: Pick something inside your performance to be deeply curious about – like the pace and rhythm of the words coming out of your mouth as you give a presentation, how the guitar strings feel on your fingers as you play, or the movement of a tennis ball as your opponent tosses it in the air before serving to you. When Tiger Woods played his best golf between 2000-2003, he told a documentary filmmaker that he often became so “entrenched” and so “engrossed” on a shot that all background noise and self‐conscious thought disappeared. He said, “It’s almost as if I get out of the way…and my subconscious takes over.” After attaching your attention to a target inside your performance, let your subconscious drive your performance and accept all results. Dwelling on mistakes and berating yourself for poor results depletes your mental bank account and erases the confidence you built up with quality effort, success, and progress reflection. Therefore, thrive for perfection but quickly accept imperfections because you’re an imperfect human and beating yourself up is counterproductive.
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