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From an evolutionary standpoint, fear is useful. If you are in danger, fear triggers your body to release hormones that prepare you for fight or flight to get out of harm's way. Fear could save your life. When it comes to high performance in a critical moment though, fear can be problematic if not managed properly. Fear of failure may stand in the way of getting started or encourage you to quit. Fear is also distracting. It can take you from the present moment back to a past failure or into a future irrational thought (i.e. ‘This is never going to work out’). Fear is normal in many cases but needs to be managed properly to encourage you to perform your best especially when it matters most. It’s even common for world-class performers to experience fear as well. The difference is they have the (learned) skills to manage their fear and deal with it at a time that is appropriate, not when they need to shine.
Let’s take it one step further. Fear can be your greatest ally for being your best IF you know how to make peace with it and then use it to your advantage.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Be Carefree of the Outcome. Prepare properly (i.e. proper sleep, good nutrition, master what you want to achieve) and assume the desired result will happen. You may have to be an actor or actress, but do your best to repeatedly tell yourself, ‘I got this.’ or something similar. What you tell yourself over and over again is what you will eventually believe. Make sure it’s the right message.
2. Focus on What You Have Control Over.Michael Jordan was told he wasn't good enough to play high school basketball. He focused (diligently) on aspects of his game that would make him better and worked longer and harder than his teammates. He likely asked, ‘What do my teammates do better than me, and what do I need to do to be my best? Get the idea? Every day matters. What can you do today that will move you a little closer to what you want? Commit to what YOU have control over. You will either win the championship or get to a level of performance that you would never have otherwise been able to attain. Bottom line: Make progress and don’t be paralyzed by perfection.
3. Visualize Success.Your Olympics is achieving your best in situations that matter to YOU. Think of your best self being world-class every day leading up to an important event. When fear whispers (or yells) in your ear, take a breath and see the finish line. Go back to #2.
Thoughts and emotions are powerful and affect our ability to be our most amazing selves. Fear is one emotion that can propel us to greatness, or it can paralyze us when it’s game time. We are what we repeatedly do, so prepare, assume the Gold, take control and consistently think about how your best self would come through. You got this!
Mental Toughness is the tool belt or catalyst which helps you to make consistent progress and to be happy along the way. Please check out the library of (free) resources on my website (SherylKline.com) or schedule an appointment with me if you’d like to learn more!
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Here's to you being amazing!
- Sheryl -
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View Sheryl's commentary on "Why You Need Fear (Not Just on Halloween!)"
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