If you get frustrated with impending tasks, overwhelming projects or unfamiliar experiences, you should know you are not alone. Fortunately, there is a way to outsmart the feeling of nervousness and learn to be more positive.
The struggle of performing under pressure
As Mr Sinek tells the interviewer, we are all subject to some form of stress in our professional lives. Whether it is time management, deadlines, performance or financials, overcoming pressure is something most people have to deal with on a daily basis. Although people’s worries differ, none of us is a stranger to that feeling. What seems to fascinate the English author is the different ways in which human beings interpret the stimuli of stress.
The actual revelation came when he was watching the Summer Olympics and the accompanying TV interviews. He noticed that all the athletes would get the same question by reporters: “Are you nervous?” Surprisingly, the response from the sportsperson being interviewed would almost always be “No”. This is when Mr Sinek apparently discovered the key to their answers:
It’s not that they’re not nervous. Their interpretation of what’s happening in their bodies is different.
The importance of interpretation
So what happens when you are nervous? Your heart rate starts to increase and you get a little tense. You also have an expectation of what is about to happen. Most people usually interpret that as the state of being nervous.
However, what if we ask ourselves about the interpretation of being excited? It turns out that the answer is similar – a feeling of tension and an expectation of what is about to happen. The big difference is that while the rest of us regard these stimuli as nervousness, the Olympic athletes that Simon Sinek was watching have learned to interpret them as excitement.
From that moment on, Mr Sinek says he has been trying to practise this change of mindset himself. According to him, it is something you learn simply by telling yourself that what you feel is excitement. Then, it will gradually become more automatic, like a daily habit you do not always notice.
It is a remarkable thing – to deal with pressure by interpreting what your body is experiencing as excitement rather than nerves. And it is really effective. It makes you want to rush forward rather than pull back and yet, it is the same experience.
Whether it is for our studies, our work, an interview or a speech, it seems channelling a healthy dose of excitement can have a positive effect.
If you are lacking inspiration and need a motivational boost, browse the short TED-like videos of the YouTube interview series Capture Your Flag. Their snippets will introduce you to different professionals who have valuable leadership advice to share.