You are worth more than…Performance Anxiety

In this fast moving world we are constantly asked to exceed expectations and overacheive on past successes. Are failures – while important learning guideposts can invoke shame and anxiety.

Performance anxiety has for thousands of years, I’m sure – but it’s impact cuts deeper than ever under the microsopic of a hyper connected internet culture that often lacks true connection.

We want to be superstars for LinkedIn, Instagram and most importantly at school, work or extracurricular activities.

Success triggers euphoria – dopamine, but if we tie our worth solely to performance we will end up in a trench we can never dig out of. We will never be able to rest in our innate value and grow beyond the expectations.

I have performance anxiety and I’m transparent about it because – because when we name that ‘demon’ – that roadblock we can overcome it.

A big part of my why is my work ethic. I want to do a good job – I want to help my team and I don’t want to mess up because I fear that it would compromise my team/friends/family etc…

While nothing is wrong with the desire to perform at the highest level – when we tie everything to success and goal achievement without a pause to reflect and the perspective of depth – we will get burned out.

Look at Simone Biles and other high profile athletes and professionals who lived by performance until they realized they couldn’t continue to perform when they lost their identity in the KPI – the performance itself.

I’m not saying that metrics aren’t important – or it’s not good to have healthy competition – we need that drive to help propel us forward. However you also need a balanced diet of – learning, empathy, growth and rest. Tying everything to a if I don’t perform well scenario ends up turning the joy of performing and competition into a fear chase. You aren’t fully engaged in the outcome because of fulfillment – but rather fear.

A lot of sales organizations set up their employees for failure by focusing so heavily on arbritary metrics that the top performers fall short because they start trying to perform instead of just performing.

Managers need to have a balance of push, drive and a gap of trust. Trusting their employees with the grace that it is okay if they make a mistake as long as they learn and you trust them in that process.

You wonder why some of the best NCAA basketball teams – iron clad teams with top NBA bound talent end up failing in the NCAA tournament? There is parity – but often it comes down to performance anxiety – players over think the game and strategy to the point they become frozen. They execute the plays but they are not engaged in the moment.

I look at a team like St. Peter’s and what set them apart was the ability to execute on plan, but also not be so bound to the plan that they stopped having fun. They were loose and agile and able to adjust.

So how can we battle performance anxiety? This is a topic I’m still wrestling with but I’ll share a few helpful battle lessons.

  • Tune out the noise: This is easier said than done, but it is important to tune out the ‘negative voices’ in your head that whisper – “you are going to fail” or if “you don’t hit this metric, your family will suffer.’ – While there are real negative emotions and consequences from failure to perform – when we listen to this ‘noise’ we are giving in to lies instead of truths. We are becoming a slave to the negative ‘art of the possible’ versus the tangible and actionable options we have at our disposal
    • While we respect our superiors and team – don’t allow their questions about performance (the grilling your get in pipeline) to throw you off track. Listen to the advice and take action on it – but don’t allow the pressure to affect your course. Otherwise you’ll be giving up a goal when you didn’t have too.
  • Focus on what you can control.
    • What are the real obstacles in your path to success? How can you create a battle plan? What can you do to overcome those obstacles
      • What isues are beyond your control?
      • At the end of the day as a salesperson I can’t sign the PO for my client, but I can make sure I give my best throughout the sales process and ensuring no stone is unturned that is within my control. If I fail at closing a deal when I’ve done everything I can – it is is not failure.
  • Be gracious with yourself
    • Block off time for self-care to help prevent burnout so you will be able to perform at a high level when you are working
      • I used to work until midnight trying to close deals and overacheive at work. I was okay for a few years, but after awhile my gas ran out. I got stomach issues (SIBO), headaches and fatigue. I realized less is more. You need to rest properly so when you are working you are fully present and performing at your best.
      • I love how Simone Biles demonstrated this with dignity
  • Remember you value! You have intrinsic value – no one has ever been or ever will be like you. God has given you unique skills and capabilities and you were made for such a time as this. Don’t be afraid of what your are not, but remember who you are (a child of God and a person of value). Examine your weaknesses as an opportunity – an invitation to grow – not as something to be ashamed of.
  • Prayer
    • I am a person of faith and God is merciful. He really does want to listen to your troubles and wants to see you succeed. Inviting HIM into the stress will keep you grounded in Truth and HOPE. People often ask where I get my GRIT and it is from God – having that dialogue and knowing the peace and hope outside of work helps tremendously. He is not as concerned about your perfection as much as your transformation and growing in grace. Psalm 139

Thanks for following my blog and I hope this helps cool your anxiety so you can perform with impact and grace.

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