Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hi, I would like you to Meet your Fears

Consummate performance is the outcome of a virtuous chain of empowering events.

This chain is triggered by a moment of truth e.g. coming face to face with a tiger, facing an interview panel, standing on a stage about to give a speech, or running up to the ball to take that decisive penalty kick at the soccer finals.

We are often thrust into these moments of truth. What happens next is determined by the choices we make. It is these choices that decide the outcome.

The virtuous chain leading to consummate performance starts with empowering thoughts. It is followed by empowering visualisation, by empowering emotions, and an energised body which is in turn followed by powerful actions culminating in consummate performance.

Whether we are a champion, advanced beginner, or a novice, peak performance is delivered at the end of this virtuous chain of events which we control.

Like any chain, this chain too, is only as strong as its weakest link. It can be broken anywhere along the chain. And, when the virtuous chain snaps, peak performance is impossible.

What would weaken and break the chain? The main enemy is fear, and fear comes in many guises.

The links in the chain leading to consummate performance may be broken by any or a combination of the following forms of fear, and the consequent negative thoughts:

Root Cause of Fear
Nature of Negative Thought

Learned fear response
A learned fear response is linked to a past bad experience e.g. being stumped during a speech, missing the goal in a penalty kick. Thinking that history is going to repeat itself. Often one bad experience is enough to develop a phobia.
Low self esteem

Secretly believing that you don’t deserve your status, that you are unqualified for the task at hand, that you are a fraud or impostor. “I don’t think I’m good enough to lead this team.”
Interpersonal anxiety

Fear of disapproval by others. Imagining the criticism of others e.g. “Look, she is so slow”, “She is not ready, is she?” “We over rated her ability.”

Loss of confidence due to diminishing interest or passion for the task at hand. “I’m not sure whether I still have what it takes to pull this off.”
Physical injury or issues

Performance anxiety due to physical injuries or issues e.g. a swollen ankle in the kicking leg when about to take that decisive penalty kick. “My ankle is killing me. Hope I can still kick the ball hard and straight. I don’t know.”

Pause, and listen to your self talk. Our fears and negative thoughts reveal themselves in self talk.

Be aware of your fears and the negative self talk that may be weakening your virtuous chain, and sabotaging your performance.  

By having greater awareness of the root causes of fear that generates the negative thoughts that weaken us, we can apply specific techniques to overcome them.

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