Archive for October 1st, 2008

Performance anxiety

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

QUESTION: Masters, I am an extremely well-educated engineer who understands the principles behind all the work that I do. I am fine when there is no one watching but when there is a time schedule I seem to fall apart. The exact same thing happens to me in sports events. When I practice I can do anything but when competition begins I can’t do anything. What is wrong with me? What can I do?

ANSWER: You set very high standards for yourself, sometimes even unrealistic ones. All of these destinations, or sought-after results, are powered by specific expectations that create tunnel vision and put restrictions on your activities.

In your everyday work situation, you have a product you wish to make but you do not have a specific manner established to accomplish this task. With no pre-set guidelines, you use all of the experience gained during your training and your previous work, plus the possibilities that occur to you as you move along, allowing you to easily complete the project.

When time becomes a factor you over-think the process and don’t give your creativity free reign. When you form a definite expectation about what you want to produce, you find you cannot produce it because you are restricted to the experiments of others that you have studied. Let go of expectations and let the energy flow.

Similarly in sports, you practice with ideal conditions based on the maneuvers you expect of your opponent. In the competition your adversary sees you position yourself to intercept him on the right side so he goes left. You are programming your next move for him. Begin by not anticipating what you have seen happen in previous battles and prepare for the unexpected. Do not commit yourself to moving in one direction or the other until you see your opponent begin to move.

To sharpen your response time and reflexes for sports, try some video games that have random-generated movements. Begin to sense the direction that your opposition is sending to you. Again leave the expectations at home and go with the flow.