I want to thank my daughter for inspiring this post. She was talking to me about her high school color guard, which performs with the marching band at the football games. Their first game is Thursday and she told me this evening that she’s getting more and more nervous as the day approaches. And she mentioned the nervousness is causing her to make a bunch of mistakes.
At the end of the conversation, she asked me if I had any advice for her and I offered her these ideas:
1. Interpret the feelings as “excited” instead of “nervous.” One time I saw a neurosurgeon on TV explaining that excitement and nervousness produce the exact same physical “symptoms” and the exact same neurological responses. In other words, the only real difference between “nervous” and “excited” is the meaning we assign to the symptoms.
2. Stop thinking about it so much and just do it. I’ve seen her past performances with the color guard and whenever she is “out of her mind” she is flawless and flowing and natural and beautiful. BUT…as soon as she gets back into her own head, she thinks about each movement and thinks about the steps from one movement to the next. All that thinking creates little delays and mistakes; over the entire performance, the mistakes and delays just compound and the team suffers for it.
She asked me if I could summarize the whole thing for her and I said, “Less thinky and more do-y.”
As I look back over my life, I see so many times when I’ve done the exact same thing she’s doing. Too often, I overthink my guitar playing, for example, and it ends up sounding mechanical. BUT…when there’s less thinky about it, my playing is very emotional and there’s quite a bit of soul.
So, from now on, I’m planning on being a tiny bit less thinky and more do-y.