May 03, 2010

The Value Of Rehearsal

 

As much as practice breeds confidence, rehearsal gives you a sense of certainty. A rehearsal is a practice session in anticipation of a public performance. It’s doing the thing in the “as-if” mode – where you are fully committed. 

 

Whether or not you realize it, this advice is highly relevant to you and not just a musician, actor or public speaker like myself. Your life is a series of performances from crucial conversations to make-or-break presentations. Make a policy of rehearsing any performance you consider important. The more important or challenging the situation, the more often you should rehearse for it. 

 

No matter where you are, you can have a mental rehearsal. In this case, you must conjure up the images of the situation where you’ll perform: The place, audience, ambience, your appearance, everything. The more vividly you see the images in your mind, the more familiar they will be when you are live. This is very helpful for physical activities or direct competition where it’s hard to rehearse for real. Several years ago, Dr. Judd Blaslotto conducted a study at the University of Chicago that demonstrated the performance benefits of mental rehearsal. He compared a group of participants that practiced making free throws to a group that visualized making the same number of free throws. At the end of the month, both group had virtually the same level of improvement! Today, in the world of sports, visualizations are a critical part of preparation as coaches and trainers realize the confidence building power of imagery. 

 

As kids, we always win when we play make believe. When I gave my pretend rock concerts, I had the crowd at “hello”. This won’t prepare you for the real world of objections, distractions and constraints. A study released in the Journal Of Sports Science made a breakthrough discovery: Teens that mentally rehearsed overcoming adverse competitive situations, gained the most confidence in their abilities to play soccer. This is called Motivation Specific Mastery (MS-Mastery). In this case, you visualize yourself mastering a challenging situation, not just running through it with a good outcome. Always make sure you include the hurdles as you practice your performance in your mind. Stretch your imagination to identify things that could go wrong and potential sources of adversity. 

 

While mental rehearsals have merit, nothing beats a full contact dress rehearsal. Champions go the extra mile to arrange such real-world rehearsals, while others prepare solely in their head. Take doctors at University of Rochester hospital: They simulate vascular surgeries, and see a dramatic boost in outcomes during actual life/death situations. Along the way, as they continue to rehearse, their confidence soars as they expect to have positive outcomes based on their experience. As one surgeon told me, “Nothing will boost confidence in your self and your team like being successful in the operating room.”

 

If your upcoming performance is a conversation or a presentation, you need to rehearse it out loud – fully! I always get up early the day of my convention speeches to give my talk into a mirror, making eye contact with myself and instructing my subconscious mind. In The Magic Of Believing, Claude Bristol calls this the mirroring technique. I’ve learned that if I can face myself and like my own words, then my audience will too. 

 

The closer you can come to a simulation of the exact physical experience the better. If you are going to rehearse a work presentation, rehearse in the actual room you’ll later use. Setup your visual aids and use them, just as you will live. Recruit a few volunteers to be your audience. Bring a clock, so you also rehearse your timing. You’ll get great practice at dealing with distracted people, ringing cell phones, ticking clocks and gadgets that don’t work on command. 

 

By including real challenges to your rehearsal (time/space/distractions),when they really happen in the moment, you’ll be in a familiar place and you can smile and say, “I thought you were coming!” Mike Tyson, the world champion boxer, once said, “you get knocked out by the element of surprise, that’s what drops you to the canvas. If you see the punch coming, you can survive it.”

 

This is an raw excerpt from my next book, Today We Are Rich.  I released this a few weeks ago via my Facebook Author page.  If you want sneak peaks or to be involved in the conversation, like my author page today!

 

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Comments

Commentor

I think a lot of us creative people claim that we like to "wing it," because we have this perception of ourselves as Don Draper.

Really, it's usually just laziness or a lack of focus. Rehearsal never hurts, it only strengthens the assurance in your work.

Thanks for this reminder Tim!


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