Fear and peak performance

28th November 2013
I was delivering a breakfast briefing at The Hospital Club on Tuesday morning.

My subject, one that is close to my heart, the impact of emotion upon communication. The focus was on face to face communication and how humans automatically and non verbally share how they feel even if they do not want to. The impact of understanding this in both work and life context is great as our level of awareness determines how much we really want to know about the person sitting opposite us and their intentions.

My experience was 1 hour before the briefing I was displaying all the signs of panic. I felt nauseous, I drank a lot of water, I was not engaging with my guests. The metaphorical spotlight was blinding me and it felt terrifying. Then at 9.01am, I started to speak. Instantaneously all my fear reduced to a really comfortable level of focus, relaxation and a little charm. I enjoyed checking out my audience, their expressions, their opinions, even some tough questioning, I was living the In The Moment experience that attracted me to co founding this business. We ran over time, I made a few mistakes, we had a few laughs and the vast majority left smiling having learned something about themselves and human behaviour in communication. Whether this was personal or professional development I was not concerned, I had delivered my message and demonstrated some pretty good communication skills.

Reflecting on a post presentation coffee I laughed a little at how I had allowed my fear to rise up just as quickly as it disappeared immediately when I started speaking. Comparisons with the whistle at kick off, the stepping onto the theatrical stage on opening night, even beginning the exam came to mind. Despite all my years of training and practice, this happens every time I step up to speak. But it helps, it really helps.

At In The Moment we believe the incremental development that comes from practice, patience, and perseverance and more than a little reflexivity is good practice for all peak performance behaviour. However, elements of automatic unconscious emotion such as fear can be important motivators, as uncomfortable as they can be, that you are getting ready to deliver big style. If I never felt fear every time I stood up to speak I would not hear the whistle, cue or prompt that tells all my senses that it’s show time.

Best wishes


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