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How To Break Through Performer's Fear And Get Into The Zone - Performance Enhancement Secrets From A Mental Coach.    Do you suffer from stage fright? Is it so debilitating that you wonder why you even drag yourself through the torture of auditions and public performances? This article will give you insight into motivations for performing and strategies for handling performance nerves and getting into the zone.    904 words.
The Mental Game Coach, Peak Performance Playbook

How To Break Through Performer's Fear And Get Into The Zone

Performance Enhancement Secrets From A Mental Coach

Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California

Do you suffer from stage fright? Is it so debilitating that you wonder why you even drag yourself through the torture of auditions and public performances? Are you an actor? Doing stand up comedy or improv? Singer? Instrumentalist? Reality TV contestant? Dancer? Performer's nerves can hit any of these disciplines.

There are many names for this fearful condition. Performance anxiety, glossophobia, social anxiety disorder, performing anxiety, performer's anxiety, performance jitters, stage fright, and countless others. Whatever you call it, it can destroy your performance.

Let's start with a fundamental reality.

Stage fright is not something that happens to you. It is not external to you. It does not come over and attack you. You can't point your finger and say, "Look, stage fright, over there!" It is within you. You actually create stage fright, from your own thoughts. So the good news is, if you create it, you can stop it!

Here is another essential foundation of stage fright. You may be performing for the wrong reasons. That's right, your motivations may be off kilter.

So why DO you perform? You could instantly stop all your suffering around performing...by not performing. You could simply perform for yourself. Or not perform at all. You need to discover your personal motivations for wanting to perform. Otherwise, why torture yourself?

Good motivations to want to perform:

  • For yourself. This is the most important one.
  • For your teachers.
  • For those who have encouraged you.
  • For the audience.

Please note that I did not say you should perform "to impress the audience". If you go out wanting to impress the audience, you will give away your power to them. They will then hold the power to approve or disapprove of you and your performance.

Separate yourself from your performance: Make sure that you realize that if you give a good performance, you are not a better person. Conversely, if you give a poor performance, you are not a worse person. You are not your performance. You will be the same person you were before the performance. Performing is but ONE aspect of you as a total human being.

Your Love Of Your Craft Helps You Handle Nerves

What brought you to your craft in the first place? What did you love about it at first? What gets you excited about it now? Those are deep motivations that can help pierce the debilitating sense of fear that can block performance. If you love what you do, you are more likely to call forth the zone. That's called having intrinsic motivation. If you perform mainly for the approval of others, that's dangerous, because approval is, by nature, fleeting, uncertain and out of your control. That's called extrinsic motivation. That's a huge reason people become nervous. They try to please others to get approval.

What do you believe your performance anxiety can teach you about the rest of your life? Is it a metaphor for something larger than a mere performance problem? Maybe your performance anxiety is symptomatic of some life issues that are asking to be looked at. So far here is what we have discovered about stage fright nerves:

  1. Stage fright is a condition that originates within you.
  2. You don't NEED to perform. Performing is a choice.
  3. Looking for approval from others creates pressure.
  4. You are not your performance.

Here are three more strategies I suggest you consider to help you handle performance nerves. I use these with my clients every day.

  1. Decide To Be Happy, Now: You really never arrive as a performer. You are always in various stages of learning, progressing, changing, evolving and growing. If you think you have arrived, you'll stop improving and your performances become stale and lifeless. Be happy now, wherever you are in your evolution. Don't wait to be happy until you "arrive".

  2. Benchmark Your Success In Practice: If you perform well in practice, there is a reason. You are doing things correctly. Find out what those are, and make note of them. Then figure put how you can tag or cue or trigger those "good factors" to come forth at will, in practice. If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere, even under the gun in auditions and performances. A coach can help you create those tags and triggers.

  3. Stage Fright Is An Additive Process. Discover What It Is You Add When You Perform: When stage fright is not present, you are cruising along and it all seems so effortless and automatic. Not so when your nerves show up. Then you are "trying to impress", thinking your way through your performance, doubting, critiquing, judging and blocking yourself. These are things you add to your performance. They were not there in practice. A large part of learning to be a consistent performer under pressure is to not add anything to your performance. If you have prepared properly, trust that good practice and turn it over to your automatic pilot.

I want you to be a happy, passionate, successful performer. Using these mental approaches above, you can stop blocking yourself with negative thoughts, tension-filled extra effort and fearful expectations about how people will judge you. Performing can then be a beautiful act of self-expression that is harmonious for you and the audience. Practice well, trust yourself and go forth into the performance zone, where all your dreams can come true.

Copyright © 2011- Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com), an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.

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