Are You a Mentally Tough Performer? Pt. 3

403493_397437233626970_1194802769_nIn the previous posts, Are You a Mentally Tough Performer?  Pt. 1 and Are You a Mentally Tough Performer? Pt. 2, we have been looking at the skills, habits, and thought processes of successful performers. What makes these performers mentally “tough” enough to withstand the pressures of performing and seemingly, fly above?

In Part 1, we discussed the “basic” skills or life skills of attitude, motivation, goal setting, and commitment and how the habits and skills you formed very early in life make a difference in how you feel about our performing and how you ultimately perform.  In Part 2, we looked at the preparatory skills that include mental imagery, self-talk, focus, and emotional control.  These are the habits and skills that some performers use to their advantage and others use to their detriment.  Just think of two performers—Bill and Cynthia—who are preparing for upcoming recitals.  Bill practices not only his music and performing, but also mentally rehearses—vividly visualizes the way he wants the performance to be, he talks to himself in a positive, helpful manner (even after mistakes), and prepares to deal with distractions like worrying about what others will think of his performing.  Cynthia, on the other hand, works really hard to perfect her music.  She can’t seem to drill or practice small sections of her music enough.  She beats herself up for mistakes and often thinks that she is not good enough or doesn’t measure up.  She gets really nervous because she fears embarrassing or disappointing herself for not being better.  This makes her upset a lot of the time.  (if you relate to Cynthia’s story, check out:  Part 2 and read on…)

Now we come to the Level III Skills:  TRUST, ACCEPTANCE, and COURAGE.   These three are the key psychological performing skills that are necessary to become a mentally strong or tough performer.   Many performers will need to cultivate these skills to perform at high levels.  This may involve changing some long-standing habits or thought patterns.  Let’s see. . .

Mentally tough performers know that they need to rely on their preparation and practice.  They have learned that practicing is like making a deposit into a “performance savings account” of sorts.  When it comes time to perform, they don’t continue to make deposits (or continue practicing)—they trust their practice and make a big whopping withdrawal!  Trusting themselves and their preparation enables the mentally tough performer to shut off their analyzing and evaluating voice to perform instead of practice in the present moment.  In order to trust, performers let go of the practice desire to consciously control needing to be correct. 
When performers begin to trust themselves and their abilities and skills, they can start accepting themselves and their performances.   Accepting your performances without judging them in terms of “good/bad” “right/wrong” is critical to performing your best.  Mentally tough performers reserve this kind of thinking for practice, not performance.   Mentally strong performers recognize that a lack of acceptance in performance, results in excessive thinking and analyzing which doesn’t foster trust.
Finally, it takes courage  for performers to truly trust and accept themselves, their preparation and their performances.  Having courage means actively directing your will to overcome self-doubt and fear.  This will mean that you plan for adversity—distraction, lack of focus, anxiety—and decide ahead of time how you will deal with it.  Having courage also means courageously letting go of the need to control every movement or action in your performing. 
Trust, Acceptance, and Courage go hand in hand as your key psychological performance skills. 
Successful performers may not possess all of these skills or may possess them to varying degrees.  Successful performers are NOT super-heroes—they are NOT perfect. 
It is important for you to realize that successful performers are not immune to doubt and fear, they have just learned either to re-interpret it or to embrace it and perform in spite of it.  You can, too!
Would you like to learn more about how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective mindset? Then, check out The Relaxed Musician:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances, A 14-Day Plan   Download Day 1 of the workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you.  With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!
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