I’m Afraid to Take The Shot
I was listening to a sports talk show Sunday morning—while I drove to an event I was writing an article about—and the host was talking about Kentucky Basketball and their so-far undefeated 2015 season. Specifically he was celebrating the fact that they seem very relaxed under pressure.
They aren’t afraid to miss.
That’s the secret of their success, he went on, because it allows them to focus on the shot as it unfolds instead of the consequences of the shot. Those might not be his exact words, but that’s the idea. I was so impressed by this that I immediately pulled over and wrote it down.
That got me thinking about how many times we miss in life because we’re afraid of missing.
When we focus on the consequences of a shot we’re taking, we add fear and ego to the equation. We add pressure. The shot we’re taking may be something we’ve done successfully hundreds or thousands of times before, but when we start thinking about what happens if we “miss” or even if we “make it” we remove ourselves from the Flow and rhythm that helps us succeed. As you understand, this increases the odds of missing because it can throw our whole system (or process) out of whack. Worse, it can cause us to start second guessing ourselves.
Second Guessing Ourselves Can Quickly Lead to Disaster.
I had a poignant example of this in my life when I was younger. I was called upon by two of my friends to be their third fighter in a team martial arts competition. They knew me. They knew I was a great fighter. They knew my work ethic and had seen my dedication to the art for years. It was an honor that they chose me to act as clean up in the sparring competition.
But I’d never been in a sparring match before and I was nervous…
Going into my match we had a 10 point lead. All I had to do was maintain the point spread they’d gotten in their matches. That was it. Easy…right?
I’ll spare you the details—even though I remember them clearly even now. We had a 10 point lead going into the match…and a 5 point deficit coming out of it.
I was slaughtered. We lost because I didn’t maintain the lead. And worse, I’d let down my friends.
I’d put so much pressure on myself to do well that I locked up physically. I second guessed everything. I didn’t trust my body to react the way I’d trained it to over the years. I was tight, jerky and mechanical in my movements, and completely out of Flow.
Essentially I was so afraid of missing, of failing, that I couldn’t function.
It was so bad that my Martial Arts instructor came up to me after the match and said, “Who was that? That wasn’t Roland. You could have easily beaten him.”
How Do We Overcome Our Fear of Missing The Shot?
Fear of missing is fear of failure. Like all fears, fear of failure can be conquered. Here are a few methods that’ll get you past fear and back into the game.
- Build Confidence in your abilities by placing yourself in the situation—through repetition.
- Treat Each Event as an isolated instance.
- Do things you love.
Let’s expand on these.
Build Confidence Through Repetition
The first time you do something your confidence might be low. Do it anyway! And then do it again and again.
When you do it, when you take the shot, focus on what went right and use that next time to make yourself better. Recognize the things that didn’t work and adjust your technique in the future. There are few things that build confidence like repetition.
The thing is to realize that we’re all imperfect. We make mistakes. And that’s okay! We also have the power to actively learn and grow. So be gentle on yourself while you’re learning. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and you’ll learn faster. It’s really simple; the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
Treat Each Event (or Shot) as an Isolated Instance
This might seem to contradict the first point. But follow me on this: treating each shot—whether it’s a sales pitch, a report you’re writing, a painting or sculpture you’re creating, or an actual shot in a game—as an isolated instance means simply to let the past and future fall away and focus wholly on the task at hand. Appreciate the moment as Now and do what you know how to do.
Sure you bring all your knowledge and training with you. And then you release concern about the history behind the event—your shot—and release concern about the consequences or outcome. Just relax and let all the training or practice you’ve had guide you.
You can handle the results after the shot because you’ll see them then. That’s when you learn and grow. That’s when you celebrate, or not. But during the shot, just let it unfold. Focus wholly on the shot and you’ll be in Flow.
Do Things You Love
This is important because doing things you love increases your likelihood of doing them. Makes sense right? This is key because doing them—taking your shots—builds confidence and releases fear.
Luciano Pavarotti said, “People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.”
When you love what you’re doing, when you’re passionate about it, you’re going to do it because you can’t get enough of it. You live it and love it and breathe it! That means you continually take your shots! And remember, repetition is key to building confidence and releasing fear!
Now I know the next question is, “What about building confidence and releasing fear when I’ve never done something before?”
I’ll cover that in my next blog post. So check back soon!
You Are The Master of Your Destiny!
Copyright © 2015 Roland Byrd — All Rights Reserved