As many of my readers know, I recently started filming a local TV series called Workplace Confidence.
It’s been quite a learning curve and a test of confidence, with a few self-conscious fast balls thrown in.
First, there’s having to open the show on cue, and trying to sound relaxed. Hearing “30 seconds to go” and then seeing the silent cue “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and a finger pointing straight at me (with a red light flashing) signaled my first time up at bat. Talk about anticipatory anxiety?! I did OK, but was so scared of forgetting my lines, that it felt forced and uncomfortable.
Then, there’s me, seeing and hearing myself on the playback, and thinking, “God—my nose is huge (and too shiny),” “I sound so nasal and New Yawk-y,” and “Thank heavens this show is only on local public TV.” My fear of my next show was already growing.
Next, there’s the criticism and the comments. My mom: “Gee—you’re dressed in all black. It looks so harsh.” My studio manager: “You have to watch those crutch words, like ‘you know’.” And, my close friend: “Well, you’re better than Honey Boo Boo.”
Strike three! I can’t do this show. I’m out!
It’s at times like these that, if we’re not careful, our overly-conscious selves can throw us off—and possibly out—of our game. It’s good to be aware, but when we overdo it, we’re aiming our bat at our self esteem and not at the ball that’s coming straight at us.
In other words, we’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment. And, that’s where we really need to be.
I’m reminded of the late, great, sports psychologist, Harvey Dorfman, who helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future.
He understood how self consciousness could really screw up performance, and even had to help baseball pros dress in the locker room when they were frozen in anticipatory fear.
Dorfman felt the vast majority of issues players had to face came from getting ahead of themselves in game situations, causing feeling to interfere with function. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”
He said that the tendency of the eyes to move ahead of objects they are tracking could lead to an over swing by the batter, as he over thinks, gets ahead of himself, and loses focus on where the ball actually is.
This doesn’t just happen to professional baseball players. This happens to all of us as well.
If we allow ourselves to be too self conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment.
I remembered this the next time I entered the TV studio, and as I opened the show, I got in the moment. I didn’t get ahead of myself. I focused on what I was doing and nothing else. No comments, no criticism, no fear.
The studio manager told me afterwards that he was shocked at how strong I sounded as I came up to the plate.
I saw the ball and hit the ball. I stopped being too self conscious. And no matter what anyone else thinks—including me—it was a home run.