“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.” Dale Carnegie
Daniel McGinn says that our success and failure in life is often determined by a few crucial moments and it is in those moments we need to perform at our absolute best. In this book, the author McGinn shares some scientific findings and other observations that assist people in raising energy, reducing anxiety and boosting confidence before an important performance or opportunity.
Daniel McGinn is a senior editor at Harvard Business Review. In this role, he is fortunate enough to edit, publish and review fascinating articles about high performing businesses, CEO’s and entrepreneurs. He also has the opportunity to meet and interview many very successful people to gain valuable insight into what makes them tick. His articles are featured in many prestigious and popular magazines and publications. He has also been a guest here at The Hidden Why – Episode 481.
What became clear to me when speaking with McGinn is that he is privileged to some great insight that many of us are not. What’s more, as a reporter, journalist and chief editor he is no doubt not shy of doing a little of his research into journal publications and scientific studies. He has combined these learnings and observations into this easy-to-read novel about mental preparation and how to get psyched up.
Ever since I’ve developed my morning routine and even from the time I became more interested and evolved in doing public speaking presentations I realised the importance in mental preparation as it related to my overall performance. For this reason, many of the ideas and practices shared in this book were not necessarily new.
However, McGinn has included some interesting studies and research that I was not previously aware of, such as insight into why some practices are “scientifically” proven to be effective. He also shares some quirky and unconventional methods that have raised my fascination and curiosity.
Upon finishing this book, I was left inspired to test and experiment some of these “psyched-up” methods. For example, I actually found myself listening to a few System of a Down songs – new age heavy rock, to get me in the mood before a recent event. On that note, I think it makes a worthwhile read for anyone looking to improve their game.
I think it was a Spartan methodology that said men who bleed in training are less likely to suffer in combat. The thought is that the more preparation you put in before the real event, the more likely it is that you will kick-ass. Morning routines are the way many people, including myself, mentally and physically prepare for each day ahead. Nowadays it is something that I hate to miss because I have experienced how much more efficient and better I feel by doing a little preparation.
Preparation is the key message in this book. The better your preparation the better your chances of acing that very next challenge. I believe there is value in “winging” something however even in winging something I believe there is a need for a certain level of “psyched-up” energy to help increase the results. To “wing-it” is to execute something without sufficient preparation.
In this book McGinn shares practices used by athletes, musicians, artists, comedians, business people and entrepreneurs to minimise the risk of things going wrong.
Some of the key chapters and highlights were on the benefits of speeches and presentations to raise the energy of others. Locker room talks were the primary examples used here. There are also benefits of doing this at the individual level – positive self-talk and affirmations, for example. Some people go so far as to listen to a recording about how good they are to reaffirm and put them in a positive mental state before a competition.
I think also an important take away was that it’s okay to listen and learn from past mistakes but in efforts to boost confidence and shatter anxiety it may be best to focus on the positive experiences and desires before heading into an event. Tell yourself how well you are going to perform and visualise winning.
It may benefit some of us to visualise the possible hurdles but rather than focus on the adverse outcomes that may result, imagine how you will efficiently conquer them.
In the last chapter McGinn visits some of the new-age and somewhat unconventional ways people are tackling anxiety and raising cognitive functions by the use of medications. Beta blockers are one such pill used by many to help reduce stress to allow them to perform more confidently. There is also mention of other drugs or pharmaceuticals that give people an ability to play longer, better and harder.
Fascinating stuff and like the author I am not sure if I entirely agree with these techniques although I am curious enough in experimenting with some of them to see the merits behind them In saying that, I appreciate the more natural approaches in getting psyched up.
We are all very different and what works for one may not work for another so the key is to experiment and play with these ideas and others to see what helps you mentally prepare and perform better for those crucial moments in life.
If this book sounds of interest you can purchase Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed here.
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