IAS: Control What You Can Control
A major league player I work with was preparing for his first post-season game. He was overly excited, and rightfully so. He had been dreaming of leading his team to a World Series championship since he was a little boy, and now he would have that opportunity. The night before the game I could tell he was a little too excited. I encouraged him to focus on something called his Ideal Arousal state (IAS).
A person’s arousal state is essentially how amped up a person is during performance. Think of arousal this way: on a scale of 1-10, a 1 would be trying to perform while you are half asleep and a 10 would be trying to perform after drinking 35 cups of coffee. You don’t want to be a 1 and you don’t want to be a 10. The pitcher knew he pitched his best when he kept his arousal at a 6. On the scale of 1-10 he knew that if he was a 6 before throwing each pitch he would feel a perfect combination of calm, aggressive and confident all at the same time. He also knew that keeping his IAS at a 6 throughout the game was probably the most important thing to do to ensure success.
The next day the pitcher felt great going through his pregame warm-up; however, he had forgotten to emphasize his ideal arousal state in his mental preparation. In the first few innings of the game his arm felt great, but he struggled throwing strikes and was having to work himself out of difficulty. As he sat in the dugout between innings, it occurred to him that he was not keeping his arousal under control. He realized that his IAS was at an 8 or 9. He promptly took a few centering breaths and thought about his IAS of 6 until he could feel his calm, confident feeling. He then pitched several strong innings, leading his team to a World Series victory.
Each time you make a sales pitch, facilitate a meeting, or participate in a performance review, you are performing. Think about it… for non-athletes, these business performances are every bit as important to success as throwing the game-winning pitch is to the Major League baseball player.
One of the most productive methods of increasing focus and performance success is learning how to control your ideal arousal state (IAS). A critical first step in controlling arousal is to know what your IAS actually is. Your IAS will vary according to the nature of the task at hand. Some tasks will require a higher IAS than others. For example, you may want to be a 7 to exhibit enthusiasm and positive energy when doing large group presentations. An IAS of 5 may allow you to slow down and be more attentive during one-on-one performance reviews. There are many reasons why your IAS may change across tasks.
First, identify what you consider to be your three most important work performances. Now I would like you to identify your ideal arousal state for each of your three most important work tasks. To figure out exactly what your IAS is for each task, think about the past times when you have performed really well at the tasks you listed. Assess on the 1—10 IAS scale what number you were while you performed at the high end of your potential.
Now that you know your IAS for the three most important career performances, learn to get yourself to that IAS state before each and every performance in the future. Here are some tips on doing so:
If you need to increase your IAS, use a specific memory from a time when you were experiencing the desired IAS number. For example, if you perform your best during sales calls at a 6, then remember a time when you made a successful phone call while feeling the IAS of 6. Remembering the specific call will help cause the IAS in the present.
If you are too amped up, try taking a centering breath. Breath in for 6 seconds, hold for 2, and then exhale for 7. Doing so will slow your heart rate and allow you to lower your arousal state.
Make the commitment to put yourself in a position to feel your IAS before every performance. Commit to taking a few seconds before each presentation or meeting or sales call. Your consistency and execution will dramatically increase by doing so.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Jason Selk on February 9, 2012 at 1:37 am, and is filed under Mental Toughness. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|