SPA 031: Don’t Perform to Impress

“Be more conscious of yourself, don’t be self-conscious.” – Jim Rohn

Have you ever had moments in training or match where you want to show people how it’s done? You just want your teammates or audience to be impressed by your performance, the social approval to acknowledge that you are the best person for the job, you did something like magic, or things like, you are the man of the match or most valuable player?

I can totally relate to that, having been involved for about 10 years plus in my sport known as Canoe Polo, I cannot deny that there were times I relied on social acknowledgement to fuel my motivation. It was to the point whereby when I was supposed to be putting 100% when practising a drill during training, I did not do that, because at that point of time I felt that if I put in too much effort to do something, my face will show how much effort I needed to perform a certain drill. This really sounds quite ridiculous now as I talk about it, but it really got to me naturally at that point of time.

What do I mean by this exactly? This sport I was in, called, Canoe Polo, it is meant to be a fast-paced short burst game, so it’s important for all players to train on picking up explosive pace because as the game goes on, all the players expect that they need to pick up speed and sprint at random times, a little bit like basketball and water polo, whereby turn over of possessions can be in a matter of milli seconds, and hence, we are expected to always train on our sprints at every training session. And when it comes to training sessions, we always encouraged one another to do our best at 100%. We didn’t really focus so much about the why at this point in time I am referring to. And 100% could mean anything to anyone.

When it comes to pushing yourself to sprint your fastest and hardest every time, it’s really exhausting. You can start feeling the lactic acid build up in your forearms after sometime when you haven’t reached your destination but you are still expected to go your best. Some players will start hunching in an awkward position with their heads down, some will start shaking their heads as they sprint like they are in some sort of trance. As for me, I simply refused to embarrass myself. I would either start much earlier than the rest so that I can arrive earlier or I set myself back to start later, so I have this mental excuse running in my head that the rest had a head start, I can reach my 90% and still looked relax. Then I can last all the sprint sets and everyone will think that I’m some superhuman.

I guess the problem is not that I did not perform to my 100%, sometimes you’ll never know who is doing their best, most people do not own up to that. I think the problem is my perception of eyeballs watching my every move and my perception of how I was perceived. I was worrying about what others think of me when there wasn’t such a thing to begin with. It was a self-made ridiculous illusion that came out of nowhere, probably through hearing conversations between coaches and players about other players, then I got all self-conscious about my own actions.

So what’s the problem with this?

Find out more in this episode number 31.

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