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18 January 2011

Don’t Choke

This time of year, many people spend some energy thinking about what they are going to do to be more successful in the months ahead. They set goals, create plans, commit to resolutions and make promises to themselves. They invest in gym memberships, self help books and seek out all kinds of tools that they think will help them be more successful.

I recently read a book that got me thinking that maybe we are going about this all wrong. Maybe instead of focusing on behaviors and actions that we perceive are related to success, we should focus on why it is that we don’t reach those goals we set for ourselves. In other words, why do we choke?

Why is it that some people spend countless hours preparing before a big test or presentation, only to be disappointed with the outcome? Meanwhile, others spend far less time and effort and manage to pull off a stellar performance. How come you can practice a presentation in front of the mirror and execute it flawlessly, but once in front of a room full of people you forget what you were going to say? Why does the athlete perform perfectly in practice and bomb on game day?

These are all questions that are addressed in the book “Choke” by Sian Beilock.

I think the book makes a really valuable point that if we better understood why we sometimes choked and worked on changing that, then we would choke less. It seems logical that if we choke less, we will succeed more.

As we move forward with 2011, perhaps devoting some effort at looking at why we haven’t always achieved our goals in the past will help us avoid a repeat performance this year. Just a thought, but maybe looking at the other side of the coin could be enlightening.

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