It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger
How do you feel now? I can bet with you that now you feel more energized and focused. Or you might be even “feeling dancing, dancing”.
This is the point of Daniel McGinn’s book “Psyched up”.
The entire book revolves around the topic of how we get in that state of mind that we need to perform at our best, be it a presentation, a game, a sales pitch or a musical show. As Daniel phrased it ‘in the years since Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers, we’ve become a society obsessed with practice, with systematically grinding our way to the magical 10,000 hours required for proficiency. Practice is vital to any high performer, of course, but eventually you run out of rehearsal time. … we have just a few moments to collect our thoughts and prepare our minds. There’s no room for more practice. … Psyched Up is a book about what to do in these vital moments just before you perform.’
Daniel did an extensive review on the techniques used by different professions such doctors, sports men and women, musicians. Each has his one way of bringing the right mood at the right time.
What I find particularly interesting is the level of self-awareness that one should have to be able to find the tune fitting the moment. There is no “one-fits-all” solution and most important, you have to try out a couple of them before you settle on what works best for you.
Let me go through the main ideas in the book and it will feel like you have a full menu of methods in front of to mix and match:
- Have a pre-performance routine or at least a superstition
My mum used to tell me every time when I had an important day, to walk out of the house right foot first. This might be a silly thing but it can provide confidence that all will go smooth. Hence, increasing the chances of success by bringing the right mind set. You can define yourself a ritual that or at least pull out those lucky jeans.
- Visualize it!
Dreaming of becoming the new CEO? Then, wait for the right moment when the office is empty and take a picture of yourself sitting in that chair! Or at least lean back in your own and let your brain develop a personal picture of that. By visualizing the outcome in our own terms, provides a conscious image of our desire and stimulates motivation.
- Use those emotions in your favor
When I read the chapter on this, I instantly felt like Daniel is talking about me! This is exactly what I was talking about in the article about presentations “Smile and They will Love You!”. I definitely do believe you can channel that energy into bringing the right state of mind. If you are curious how to do that, then you can try Yuri Hanin’s method called Individualized Zones of Optimal Functioning or Robert Nideffer’s technique called centering. My personal approach is to acknowledge that fear and anxiety, but in the same time take a conscious decision to use it for energizing myself.
- Pep talk yourself into it
We all associate pep talks with sports. Is this stereotype that a couch should always give a speech that will get the team energized and ready to take the crown. The same technique can have a favorable impact if it’s used to increase the level of confidence. Research showed that there is direct link between confidence and results.
There are a couple of options out there: you can either work with a specialist that will make a recording that you can turn to before each significant event, or just book a meeting with yourself.
From my perspective, the important aspect is to believe in what you are saying. Try using some of the exercises that Mandie Holgate describes in her book “Fight the Fear” (truly fascinating book I’ll consider covering in an article) to get you more comfortable with praising yourself.
- Put the record on!
Here is the moment when I bring back the lyrics from “Eye of the tiger”. Music can have a great impact on each of us; you just have to figure out what works best for you depending on the type of environment you work in and your typology. There is a full body of research of what fits best done by Costas Karageorghis. It worth taking a look and then give a second thought to that playlist!
Remember that hand written note you got in 2nd grade saying you have great potential and the feeling that you can accomplish anything if you get your mind to it? Then pull it, buy a nice frame and hang it where you can see it. Your mind will do the rest. Research says we can guide our brain to a desired state if we give sufficient reminders of what that should be. So by looking at a meaningful picture\ object, even if that is one for a split of a second, it brings back memories and the feelings associated with it.
Now take one more look at the lyrics of “Eye of the Tiger” from Survivor (I’ve included them at the end of this article). There is a reason why it is considered one of the most popular psych-up songs of all time. It combines a lot of the ingredients from above: it tells you to search for the significant moments from the past, visualize the win and reinforce the idea that it can be done.
I’m convinced that when Jim Peterik wrote the words to this song, he was not looking for a way to put into lyrics a summary of personal development techniques. He was focusing on transmitting a message and that he accomplished by creating one of the most iconic songs that will get your blood pressure up even if you don’t know the movie.
To sum it up, before that important presentation, walk backwards in a room filled with mementos of precious reminders of glorious moments, where you can put on your lucky sneakers, stand tall and see yourself doing the greatest presentation of all times and then tell yourself into doing it. And before you leave the room, put that record on and rehearse a couple of moves from Rocky!
Once you do that, let me know if it did the magic! Or what else works for you to get you “Psyched-Up”!