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‘Performance anxiety’ can be synonymous with ‘action anxiety’

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  • January 7, 2013
  • Mark Schulman

“Performance anxiety” can be synonymous with “action anxiety”- fear of doing something- creating, inciting, instigating, moving, communicating, propelling, accomplishing.  This can clearly impede your financial, social even spiritual potential and goals.  Have you ever experienced considerable anxiety before giving a sales pitch, leading an office meeting, doing a job interview or a keynote, playing in a band or even in social situations such as a cocktail party?  Anxiety by definition stems from the root ‘to vex or trouble’ and can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread.  When anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can derail your intended action.   Have you ever choked at an important moment?  If you had immediate and effective ways of moving from an anxious to confident performance in that defining moment of action, how much would that have been worth to you?

My book, Nerve Breakers is about harnessing the energy and emotions and transforming them into highly skilled and confident presentations or performances.   We can use a certain amount of nervousness or tension to perform at our best. Let’s say ‘performance anxiety’ is deleterious anxiety- the tipping point where the physical manifestations get too extreme and/or one’s thought processes get impeded or distorted. The physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, muscle weakness and tension, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, stomach ache or tension headaches…ouch!  I don’t want anyone to ever have to experience any of those debilitating symptoms.  What exacerbates these symptoms is what our minds can do- catastrophize, or exaggerate in our imaginations all types of negative scenarios associated with the performance which can either be a result of the physical maladies or cause them.  No matter how you arrive to this very uncomfortable situation, the result is never desirable.

Early in my career I failed a an auction for a super group called Bad English.  My stage fright/ anxiety overwhelmed me and my ability to perform at my best.  My foundational ability to keep steady time was impeded and this is critical for a drummer.  They say that timing is everything and at the time I thought my career was over before it really started. It was traumatic and motivating.  It was a blessing in disguise that inspired my 20 year journey to analyze, study, research, network and discover until I uncovered the rituals and habits that now enable me to conquer fright, on and off the stage and transform it into confidence.  In 2011, I came up with “Overcoming Life’s Stage Fright” as a topic for some of my speaking gigs.  After all, I could be one of the more qualified people in the world to take on the subject. Over the course of my life, I’ve performed for nearly a billion people.  This brought me to the realization that my experience and stories combined with my tried and true methods of harnessing and moving right through my fear of taking action into confidence in action could be very effective as a ‘how to’ book.

In this blog, I will present excerpts from Nerve Breakers: Conquering Life’s Stage Fright to give you what I know can be very useful information to bring you more confidence to any of your presentations, performances and communications.  Enjoy and employ…

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