If you’re struggling to master a skill, try faking it

There’s a section in my book ‘The 7 Pillars of Sporting Success: and how to apply them in business’ where I refer to the work of Tim Gallwey, the former tennis pro who wrote the ‘Inner Game’ series, exploring the power of the mind in performance situations. He explained how he asked a golfer who was cursed with a bad swing to show him what he’d like it to be like – and had him hit some great shots with a FAKE swing!

I was reminded of this during a presentation skills session I was running for a client. He was apprehensive about a forthcoming speaking assignment and we were working on his speaking style. I asked him to read a paragraph and timed it. I then asked him to repeat the passage, this time taking longer. It sounded better, but lacked feeling. I read it out in my best Larry Olivier voice and asked my client how it sounded. “It was great, really sounded like you meant it. I wish I could do it like that.”

Remembering Gallwey, I asked him to show me how I did it. He stood up, cleared his throat and mimicked what he’d just heard. It was FAB! More expression, more passion, more rhythm and better body language. A triumph darling!

Performance coaches often use the formula PERFORMANCE = POTENTIAL MINUS INTERFERENCE. In this case we cut through the interference with a ‘what if’ approach. We know you can’t do this, but what if you could? What would it look like? Try it some time – you’ll be surprised.

Incidentally, if you have to present or speak in public as part of your job, you might want to take part in a POLL I’m running on LinkedIn. Follow the POLL LINK here.

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