I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Greg Dale from Duke University last week and one of the topics we discussed was the Pressures that we put on ourselves while on the road to greatness.
Man, Dr. Dale drop gold mines. Get this... He stated that there are three things that we tend to focus on more that ultimately hinders our ability to reach greatness. Those three things are:
Expectations: what happens when you remove all the self-expectations and the ones you believe others have for you? It frees your mind. It frees up the pressure and tension of performing well and thus, you're able to do well.
An example Dr. Gale gave was a MLB rookie in his first season. He's just happy to be playing and loving the game. He has no care in the world so he outperforms himself. Yet, after the rookie season, there are now expectations placed on him. What type of plays does he have to make? How many homeruns must be made? What will the recurring contract look like? Now, here come the expectations that creates negative pressures that may keep the rookie player from actually performing his best.
Criticism or Scrutinized: I can attest to this. I almost psyched myself out from writing What Are You Sporting About? a best selling book on sports and business for athletes in business. Yet, before I had written one word, I was concerned about "what would people say? What would the big leaders in sports say about this book?" That moment was keeping me from simply STARTING! Once I was able to get out of my way and remove the fear of criticism, I performed and the book reached greatness!
Consequences: Dr. Gale stated that most people are unable to perform because they are too worried about the consequences of not performing well. I can also attest to this. When I finished law school, the next step was sitting for the Bar Exam. I had worked so hard to make it to that point. I remember sitting at the table waiting for the proctors to tell everyone to begin. When I received the booklet, I literally panicked. All the pressures of "what if I don't pass? I don't have other options" consumed me. I had to stop, take a deep breadth and relax. When I did that, I forgot about the consequences and simply focused on the task in front of me. I PASSED ON THE FIRST TRY.
Simply, we can all be great but we must move out of our own way. The simplest way to do this is to find happiness and joy in the process of what you're doing. Have fun! Forget about the pressures around it. Don't put unreasonable expectations on yourself. Don't worry about what people are going to say! And most definitely don't worry about what will happen if you mess up!
It's like Nelson Mandela said, "I don't lose. I either win or I learn." So be happy and remove those pressures that are keeping you from your greatness.
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