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Day 106: Performance Anxiety

“The day is committed to error and floundering; success and achievement are matters of long range.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

All of my children play something competitively. They try to win at a number of challenging sports or in musical auditions. We have witnessed all varieties of choking on the court, both tennis and basketball courts, scratching on jumps, falling off horses, literally. So many ways to skin the same cat, that of learning the fine art of loving what you do even when people are watching. Having the courage to put yourself out there for the heart of the game, regardless of outcome is the important takeaway.

I feel as if I have given my kids pretty good advice and compassionate support as they have each sought out the comfort of performing well regardless of the number of people watching. The perfect presence to achieve our best, love the process and the outcome equally, so the real win is always an interior win.

Today, after my son scratched his first long jump competition, I asked him how far he jumped regardless of the line- Almost 16 feet. It doesn’t matter about the line, small part of the technique. Thinking of how far you jumped. Jump big, I told him. Next time I will say jump big and accurately. Easier said than done.

I had my own competition exercise today- ten minutes to tell the entire invest worthy story of my life work. Most importantly how it can turn into money for other people willing to stake their money on your vision and experience. I am normally a very good talker. It is maybe my most significant natural personality attribute. I have the ability to engage, articulate and peak the interest of my listeners. I speak often about love and relationships. I even have my own radio show.

Today, as I entered the room full of investors, I told a joke. I was fine and then suddenly, I was overcome with performance anxiety. It was somewhere between a brain freeze and a thought seizure, but I could hardly read words off a page. It was visceral before it was intellectual. It took me almost to the five-minute mark to find my balance again. As the talk moved forward and I told the story, got present, things smoothed out, but each time they flashed the number of fingers I had left, I panicked and lost my rhythm again.

Suddenly I see the sport of the perfectly timed presentation anew. I guess I am more of the workshop speaker. Give me even a half an hour and I can relax into getting it all said. Anyway, I do believe that I captured enough of my synaptic response to say some lucid things and let my real self shine, but it was erratic. At least I can say with confidence that it was much more erratic than my day to day conversation. Usually my quick description of female sexual dysfunction doesn’t miss a beat, but then again I never timed myself before.

While the performance could definitely use significant polish, I was able to befriend the anxiety. I held up the freeze to the light and found some of the compassion that I have reserved for my children. I found the laughter and forgiveness of giving it your all and not arriving with the win you thought you had in you. Practice is the only truth of it.

So glad I signed up for the smart up pitch practice session next week, too bad it didn’t precede the investor club meeting. How fragile, how rare, perfect execution.