Published: 13th June 2020
Canteen Fundas: Hush the critic within you to perform better
Pro Tip: You have two selves within you, the judge and the executor. Quieten the former for the latter to perform to its potential
Bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I prepare well but I don’t perform as well as I think I can. Why?’
‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘How do we perform up to our potential after preparing well?’
‘I read this book called The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s about performing up to your potential in any field.’
‘Wow,’ said Rahul. ‘How?”
‘First, be aware that there are two selves inside us — Self 1 and Self 2,’ said Rakesh. ‘Self 1 is the worrier and critic. It understands words and tends to intellectualise them. Self 2 is our executor, the one who’s doing the work. It understands images, feelings, and uses them to ‘do’ things. So, while our Self 2 is executing, Self 1 is continuously judging. Our Self 2 gets disturbed and performs below potential. Are you familiar with your Self 1 and Self 2?’
‘Yes, my Self 1 is highly judgmental, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku
‘And my Self 2 gets paralysed with fear,’ said Rahul.
‘That’s true for most,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘So, here’s the formula to improve performance. Performance = Potential – Interference. Reduce interference, improve performance.’
‘How can we reduce interference?’ asked Rinku.
‘By keeping Self 1 busy,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Increasing body awareness is a known method. Focusing on your breath, singing or humming are commonly used techniques to quieten Self 1.’
‘But judging can’t be so bad, right?’ asked Rahul. ‘How can we improve if we don’t measure and judge ourselves, bhaiyya?’
‘Self 2 can do a great job by accessing its learning, if we allow it to. Measure your performance, but don’t judge it,’ said Rakesh.
‘Is there a process we can adopt for our next performance, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Gallwey suggests four steps,’ said Rakesh. ‘First, remain non-judgmental. Second, create an image where you feel the feeling of executing your task — so your Self 2 can ‘see’ what it needs to achieve. Third, quieten Self 1 and fourth, trust Self 2 to do its job.’
‘What if Self 2 fails after all this?’ asked Rahul.
‘Even if it fails, don’t judge,’ said Rakesh. ‘Judging and criticising only makes Self 1 feel important and Self 2 feel small. Sharpen your ‘feeling image’ and attempt again.’
‘Thanks, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Now, without judging and criticising myself, I’ll make my chai.’