This week I completed a seminar that was pretty damn good.  My client was happy, and I should have been too, but I wasn’t.  I wanted more.  For some rather personal reasons, I wanted to put on one of the greatest seminars I had ever conducted.  I obsessed on it, fretted over it, prepped for it, innovated within it, and the fact is, I did a good job.  Why wasn’t it a great job?  I wanted it too badly.

This is not a new lesson; it’s an old one.  Quite simply you cannot be at your best when you want to perform and succeed as badly as I wanted to.  What you are really committing to is a desperate, and tight performance at your task.  For me it was a presentation – for you it might be a client appointment.  For me, I wanted to be so good, I hurt my chances of success.  I put in some new slides, video clips, audio clips, small group exercises and more.  I rehearsed and practiced and the fact is there was no problem with any of it.  The problem was with the normal things I usually do.  I was clearly tight, got tongue tied a few times, found myself searching for words occasionally, and forgot a few things that normally come naturally to me.  Perhaps that’s because I was making this presentation, and the preparation for it unnatural for me.

What a strange irony to find that the reality is obsessing on success doesn’t necessarily improve the chances of success.  I can honestly say from experience it actually diminishes your chances of success.  This presentation was a classic example.

Now before I look back on this one day and forget, this was still a pretty damn good presentation.  The fact is I had to hold an audience for almost two hours without a break.  I can honestly say I got sharper as I went along.  I put in three different group exercises – two in the last half hour to hold that audience tight.  Everything I tried worked, and I think the audience liked it a lot.  I just know I could have done better, particularly in that first 30 minutes when I was suffering from, “I-want-to-do-well-itus.”

The fact is, pumping yourself up is fine, but pumping yourself up as high as I did is counterproductive, and I knew it.  My greatest source of pride professionally is that I always bring my “A” game.  I always give every ounce of energy I possess and don’t need to pump myself up further.  I have a track record of success that now spans almost three decades.  All I need to do is properly prepare, eat right, take care of my body, and strap on that microphone.  The rest will take care of itself.

I’m guessing in your world you can say the same thing.  Putting on a performance of a lifetime can happen, but pressing is only going to reduce your chances of making it happen.  It’s another case of instinct versus logic.  Instinct says, the harder we press, the greater our performance.  Logic say, the harder we prepare, and the more we trust what brought us to the moment we seek, the greater our performance.  Sounds pretty logical to me.

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