A couple of weeks ago we looked at Carol Dweck’s view of Mindset and how having a fixed or growth mindset can affect your performing. Today I want to look at a similar comparison of mindsets—performers with an optimistic view of their performing and those with a pessimistic view. Now of course, none of us want to admit to being a pessimist. Pessimism is bad, isn’t it?—especially to pessimists! As psychologist Martin Seligman puts it in his book, Learned Optimism, the defining characteristic of pessimists is that they “tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault.” The optimist when confronted with the same situation tends to believe defeat is just a temporary setback. Optimists perceive mistakes, setbacks, or failure as challenges and work harder. Dr. Seligman discusses how pessimism is escapable and that optimism can be learned, thus the title of his book.
When you think of your own performing, do you think in an optimistic way or a pessimistic way? You may be thinking, “But I’ve been auditioning for a symphony job for a year now and not one ‘yes’!” or “I auditioned for two grad schools and wasn’t accepted to either. How am I supposed to feel?” That’s where the title of this post comes in: YES! Performing in a “Who’s next?” World. How would you like to feel in the face of rejection or adversity? How would you like to be saying ‘YES!’ to your own performing when it seems as if everyone else is saying ‘NO!’ or ‘Who’s next?’. ”
yes is a world
& in this world of
all worlds e. e. cummings
Optimists believe that there are infinite possibilities within themselves and their performing. Pessimists fear that their current performing state may be all there is. A winning mindset sees risk as opportunity. These performers see the rewards of success in advance. They do not fear the penalties of failure. Performers with an optimistic or growth mindset know that so-called luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. If an individual is not prepared, he or she simply does not see or take advantage of a situation. Opportunities are always around, but only those who are prepared are in a position to utilize them effectively.
Are you ready for the bottom line here? The bottom line is that YOU choose how you think about your performing. If you find yourself thinking negatively, you were not born a pessimist or with a fixed mindset. You learned this way of thinking. Your thoughts are what drives the way you feel about your performing and, ultimately, the way you perform. That’s it. If you struggle with performance anxiety that disrupts your performing, or can’t deal well with distractions, or have trouble performing as well as you practice, you can LEARN the mental skills to consistently think positively and differently about each one of these issues and feel better doing so!
- Identify what it is you want to accomplish as a performer—ULTIMATE GOAL!
- Identify your present talents and strengths.
- Learn how to increase and amplify these talents and strengths to improve performing and your joy of being a performer.
- Identify what you still need—skills, instruction, experiences—in order to reach your goal.
- Seek to acquire the needed skills, instruction, and/or experiences.
- Learn the mental skills to continue increasing and amplifying your skills—physical and mental.
- Perform your brains out!
What have YOU been thinking about your performing? Have you been frustrated with the quality of your playing or singing? Examine your thoughts—your beliefs about your own skills and your ability to perform. What do your thoughts, your beliefs, or your mindset say about you and your approach to performing? Do they say, “No.” or “I can’t.” “I may never be good enough.”? If you want to keep saying “YES!” to yourself and your performing when someone else is saying “Next, please!” because they are looking for someone better or different, examine your own thinking and take control of what you can control—change your mind. Change your thinking for the better!
I would love to hear your thoughts and how they have affected your performing. If you would like to talk with someone about learning and using mental skills to change your thought and belief patterns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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