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.
How To Break Through Performer's Fear And Get
Into The Zone
Performance Enhancement Secrets From A Mental
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:
- Stage fright is a condition that originates within you.
- You don't NEED to perform. Performing is a choice.
- Looking for approval from others creates pressure.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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
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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