04 Nov Make less mistakes in the heat of the moment with this technique
Did you know there’s an antidote to pressure? Now, in case you didn’t hear me, there is an antidote to pressure. There’s a way to actually buffer yourself against the effects of what pressure does to you, especially in those moments where you have to deliver.
When you absolutely must show up and everyone’s counting on you, or you are counting on you, how do you make sure that the pressure doesn’t get you? How do you make sure that you don’t choke under that moment?
The secret formula or the antidote is, you need to affirm your value. You might say, “Wait a minute. That sounds like positive thinking.” No, it’s not necessarily positive thinking. It’s different. It comes from the positive psychology research. What does that mean? It’s based on the research done by the departments at Harvard and Stanford. At those institutions there are faculties studying how to help you function optimally. One of the methods that have been discovered is to affirm your value.
There was a study that conducted with two groups of participants. They were requested to perform a task under pressure. The pressure was applied to see how they would hold up. In one half of the groups, the investigators said, “Before you do your task, what we want you to do is, affirm your value. What do you see valuable about yourself?” The participants responses included things such as: having kids, owning their home, having a job, being in good shape, having friends and being a pretty good cook. It was whatever that person thought was valuable to them, they would write it down, affirming their own value.
The other group, well, they didn’t get to do that. They were instructed to do nothing. They just sat in the pressure.
So, what happened at the end of the study? As you can imagine, the group that didn’t affirm their value had terrible results. The pressure got to them and they were totally awful. The group that did affirm their value and focused on what they really appreciated about themselves, made fewer mistakes. Also, when they did make a mistake, they bounced back quicker.
How do they know that? The study investigators put electrodes on the participants’ brains. They could see the part of your brain that recognized the mistakes didn’t fire up anywhere near as much as those in the other half of the study.
What I’m saying to you is, by affirming your value before you go into a pressure situation, it actually helps you reduce your errors. In addition, it helps you bounce back when errors do happen. You don’t get caught up in the story of feeling bad for yourself.
There is another important aspect of affirming your value. Psychologists have recognized that when you affirm your own value, it builds up your ego strength. When they highlight ego, they are not referencing making you cocky, or bragging, or bravado, nothing like that. The idea is that the increase in ego strength helps you buffer against stress. It builds up your tolerance to stress. In other words, by affirming your value it builds up your tolerance to pressure.
So, to build up your ego strength and your resistance to pressure you might affirm your value by saying things like: I know I have great friends. I have great a family. I have a great job. I have a great spouse or a partner. I like to read. I have a good library or whatever feels really valuable to you
By doing this it helps you make less mistakes, helps you bounce back faster from mistakes, and it helps you buffer yourself against the effects of pressure.
One more thing, it also helps if you have friends, or teams, or you’re a leader, or a parent, and you affirm the value of those around you. It helps them too. If you’re a leader reading this, or you’re a part of a team, and you’re talking to your colleagues and you start finding value in them. Guess what happens? It helps them make less mistakes. Indirectly, it helps them to bounce back faster. It helps to build up their ego strength. It helps to buffer them against pressure. So, now your team is feeling the same thing, even though you’re doing it for them. If you’ve got kids, it’s the exact same thing. As you affirm the value of your children, all of a sudden, you’re building up their ego strength and they start making less mistakes and they bounce back from mistakes faster because you’re affirming the value in them.
The message here is not about positive thinking or hugging trees or baseless positive thinking. The idea is reinforcing the positive psychology movement, the study of what makes your brain work better. The antidote against pressure is to affirm your own value.
So, take one or two minutes a day, every day, and just notice, what do you really appreciate about you? As you do that, you’ll handle mistakes easier. You’ll bounce back from mistakes faster, and you’ll have that inoculation against pressure going forward. If you do that, you will find a way to win.