Each and every one of us has to perform every day. Whether you are doing a presentation at work or trying to raise your team to victory in a game, you are performing. Your boss or coach and your teammates are expecting something incredible. You don’t want to disappoint. Your best is the only option.
You prepare. You gather facts, run an extra mile, put together the best PowerPoint ever or watch more film. Maybe you even stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a positive speech about how well prepared you are and that you are the best person for this job. You go to bed the night before imagining the handshakes and the high-fives after a successful performance. You’ve got this. You are the man/woman!
The big day comes. You are confident and ready. There is no doubt in your mind you will be successful.
But then it happens. You make a mistake. The big boss asks a question you can’t answer. You miss an easy pass. The turn or jump you were supposed to make didn’t work like it did in practice. The presentation is missing a slide. Everything starts to go downhill. You are trying to focus on not making mistakes. You feel your chest get tight. And suddenly you realize, “Oh my god, I’m choking! I was so ready. I did everything right. I even stood in front of the mirror! I am so stupid! How can I be failing?”
All that preparation and potential wasted. You couldn’t get it together when the pressure was on. Your boss will never send you to do another big presentation. The coach realizes you can’t handle the pressure. Your teammates put their hands on your shoulder, shake their heads and say “Next time, you’ll get it next time.” You don’t believe there will ever be a next time.
So what happened? Clearly the knowledge, skill, ability and preparation were there. Why did you choke? I can tell you why – evaluation during performance. It will kill you every time, in every situation no matter what you are trying to do.
Evaluation means you are analyzing something to determine what worked, what didn’t and where you can make changes to make something better. It is absolutely necessary to reaching your full potential. However, and this is big, you can ONLY evaluate something after it is over, not while you are doing it. Your brain can only do one or the other; perform or analyze. Not both.
Here is what I teach clients (FYI, it takes practice and often help from someone who can ‘catch’ you evaluating) – Use the 7 second rule. Praise yourself or kick yourself for seven seconds. Then let it go. If you don’t have seven, take two. The point is, get over the highs and lows quickly so you can focus on the task at hand. The next shot, the next slide or the next opportunity is the only thing you can control.
I am not saying you can’t make adjustments. Of course you can and should. Adjustment is different than evaluation. To make an adjustment you simply think “That didn’t work, I’ll do something different.” An evaluation sounds something like, “That was stupid. Why did I do that? I should have…” Should is useless during performance. You can’t do anything about ‘should’. It is over and done. I have told many clients, “Stop should-ing on yourself.”
Worrying about what just happened and what your boss, coach or teammates think will only derail the rest of your performance. Take a deep breath, say “that was awful” and move on. After you nail everything else and you get to have those high-fives and pats on the back you can watch the tape to figure out what happened during that one moment of collapse and use it during your next preparation.
You don’t practice or prepare while you perform. Evaluation and critiquing doesn’t work while performing either.
Have you experienced ‘should-ing’ during performance from yourself, your boss or your coach? Maybe you “choked”. What was going on in your head as your ‘A’ game went out the window? We would love to hear from you!
Check back in next week for tips and tricks for being a leader others will follow.
Until then – Use your potential to the fullest!!
Don’t miss last week’s topic: Don’t Shoot the Messenger!