One marketing tactic for my book, Reptiles on Caffeine,
is making speeches. I haven’t done too many. I don’t like setting them up.
I have been on the books to speak at my mother’s Toastmaster group for a while now, but I keep putting it off. I actually do enjoy the speeches, it is just the preparation, as well as the resulting anxiety that I hate. I am always afraid I’m going to choke under pressure.
I just know I’m going to forget the main focus or the supporting details. Am I going to mispronounce a word? What if I forget the Toastmaster’s name? What if I completely lose my place like I did when I was invited to speak at my friend, Lauri’s senior English class?
When you are performing a challenging task; a speech, an interview, a date; if you are anything like me, you are thinking about how horrible it will turn out. If only not to get your hopes up too high, so that you are pleasantly surprised no matter the result.
I was reading Sian Beilock’s book Choke
today, where she suggests that anticipating a horrible outcome may, actually be stressing me out.
It seems so simple. How could I possibly have missed it? Because I was allowing myself to think with my fatalistic reptilian brain, which when unrestrained, doesn’t allow any kind of affirmative talk. That, and I don’t want to get too comfortable, that I get passive about my performance. I feel if I’m not dreading it, that I am taking it too lightly.
But when we waste all of our energy dreading a bad outcome, often we’re too exhausted or numb, to actually be able to revel in the outcome.
Beilock says that we shouldn’t be focusing on the outcome at all. Instead, we should be focusing on the journey. She says, “Being focused on failing or the monumental goals you are trying to achieve may prevent you from making the small steps forward needed to succeed.”
As I look back on situations that I’ve obsessed about, I see that nothing can turn out exactly as I’ve planned. I learn to work with it, though. Stressing out can blind you to the scenery, the great people, the little serendipities that are sprinkled along the way.