I’m a quirky guy, and as a distance runner, I had a few rather unusual tendencies to prepare for a race. Some might even say these tendencies were neurotic.
One month before every race: I would not take a sip of alcohol until after the race. I would not eat foods that I craved. That meant that I didn’t allow myself foods that weren’t good for me, such as pizza, hamburgers, or anything that was fried. I would not miss a training run, or a weekly mileage total, regardless of other commitments or the weather.
My priorities and goals were quite simple: Perform at my absolute best
. Deep down inside, a part of me was well aware that drinking a beer, or eating a pizza, or missing a single training run, weeks before a race, were most likely not going to make me measurably slower. No, I was after something far greater than the gift of speed, or endurance; I was after the removal of doubt.When we do our jobs, our goals are actually quite simple: Perform at our absolute best. In the world of professional speaking, I’m as good as the last presentation I deliver. That doesn’t depress me; it motivates me. In fact, I have a few rather unusual tendencies some might say are neurotic.
Days before every presentation: I will not take a sip of alcohol until after the presentation. I will not eat foods that I crave that aren’t good for me, such as pizza, hamburgers, or anything that was fried. I will utilize as many opportunities as humanly possible to look over presentations I have often delivered countless times, regardless of other commitments.
Deep down inside of me, I am well aware that drinking a beer, or eating a pizza, or missing an opportunity to look over my work, are most likely not going to measurably impede my performance. However, I can absolutely guarantee the behaviors involved here cannot, and will not, improve my performance. Worse than that, they open the door for, and provide amplification to, the voice of doubt.Related: Not Everything Is Supposed to Feel Comfortable
Think about it for a moment. When we step out on a ledge and engage in moments that truly challenge us, doubt becomes an unwelcome friend. We know that this friend’s appearance is inevitable. When this happens, a mental tug-of-war takes place within our minds. On the one side, we have the courageous part of the mind that has thrown caution to the wind, and allowed us to leap into the unknown. That part of our mind is whispering: “You’ve got this!”Ah, but on the other side of the mind, there is a far more sinister voice, and that’s the voice of doubt. The greater the challenge we face, the greater the doubt we face. Doubt begins to frantically search for any excuse available to carve away at our will to succeed.Doubt handicaps performance. The removal of destructive thoughts, due to avoiding the tasks we know are necessary, eliminates uncertainty. This, in turn, allows us to function at our absolute best.We don’t take short cuts. We don’t cut corners. We don’t phone in our effort. We don’t fail to give 100%, We do this, not because it guarantees success, but because it wards off doubt. Once you remove the voice of doubt
, almost anything is possible!