The world has generously recognized the greatness of performers since ages: whether it is performing artists, sports persons, students, speakers and the likes of many others.
Good performances have always been rewarded with prizes, accolades, praise or other forms. But, what about many others who despite the ability to be the best always end up being second best or even mediocre.
The reason for their fallibility is their own doing – dogged by their own fears of failing to meet their expectations.
Performers – mostly students and athletes are always weighed down by the threat of their own expectations and the expectations of others- parents, teachers, coaches, school authorities and the near-and-dear ones.
They perform under constant threat of not disappointing others and of not letting them down: besides they are worried of shaming themselves- `how will I show my face, what will my parents say? My coach will give me a nice dressing down for this poor performance….’’ Etc. They are afraid of being evaluated, making mistakes and failing. Their negative self- fulfilling prophesies comes true more often than not.
The pressure that stems from fear>anxiety> expectations is even more when performers are defending their previous better performances, good grades, seeding, titles, fame and status. They would love to live up to their reputation and not let go the fruits of their hard labour- that easily.
The world class athletes are afraid of letting go of their status: wanting to get better or at least – maintain the status quo.
In the melee, these performers become self-conscious while performing- they become too analytical and let the paralysis by analysis raise its ugly head. The more they try consciously of not to fail the more they will be vulnerable to the inevitability of failure.
They know that to make things work they have to let things happen naturally. But the fear of failure makes them logical- forgetting the age old wisdom that – when logic stops magic begins.
We have noticed how upsets take place in sports- cases where an unfancied opponent defeats a much highly rated player. The unfancied player does not have a huge reputation to defend- he plays freely with a got nothing to lose attitude– whereas the much fancied opponent wants to see that he doesn’t lose to a lesser known player- he becomes conscious he can either become over-confident or too careful [ tightens up].
I presume this is what happened when India won the third edition of the ICC cricket world cup. The Indian side did not have a fearsome reputation behind them in shorter format of the game [50 overs cricket]. Their record was nothing to boast of. This team of talented cricketers didn’t give themselves a chance considering their past record.
They were so casual that they had even planned for a holiday post WC to the USA. What happened at England in 1983 is history – the Indian team performed without any pressure and won the cup but the most dreaded West Indian team with a huge reputation with two world cup’s behind them[ 1975 & 1979] lost twice to India.
The West Indies were under pressure in the low scoring final against India- the game in which they succumbed to pressure in the ultimate analysis. This is what Kris Srikanth member of the victorious Indian Team that won the 1983WC- had to say. See this video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwWrWzMbSdM
Dr Bob Rotella a world renowned sports psychologist who has assisted many sports persons to improve their mental game says- the biggest mistake sports persons do is to evaluate their own talents, unable get past others opinions and usually become conscious not to mess up – and the moment they don’t want to mess up- they mess up.
His advice is to get out your own way and turn it loose. When you get out of your skin and turn it loose’ you enjoy the feeling of letting go with the whole world watching you- then you perform better. Watch this video on what he has to say- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqnOnAJtAqU
The next time you go out there, get out of your skin and just do it – like Nike says.