Performance anxiety

This past week was one of my worst when it comes to stress. I dont know about you, but for me I am driven to succeed in many things. And to succeed, it generally requires top notch performance in all aspects. That I can do and work towards, but the problem is when I’m being watched. Especially for practical components. I actually feel those eyes boring into me and in that moment I lose all grounding; my heart literally goes into panic mode and feels as though it is beating outside my chest; the communication signals from my brain to my hands are severed; my hands become instantly clammy and useless.

When I look at a normal stress day for me, this is kind-of the pattern of what it looks like:

Overall stress level is generally well below the 25 mark and according to Garmin that is a good state of rest, well managed with a pretty constant heart rate.

According to the Garmin algorithms:

  • 0-25 is considered a state of rest
  • 26-50 is considered a state of low stress
  • 51-75 is considered a state of medium stress
  • 76-100 is considered a state of high stress

So why I am sharing this?

Well, this past week was my RPAS practical component. In aviation terminology it is known as a remote pilot aircraft system. In layman’s terms, it is known as a drone.

There are certain legal requirements to attain accreditation by the Civil Aviation Authority. What I didn’t know was that in order to get accredited the drone is required to be flown in Atti-mode (attitude mode named quite appropriately), which means there is no GPS lock for stability and positioning purposes. Any slight breeze or wind will affect the actual position of the drone, causing it to move in direction with the wind, totally out of sync for your specific maneuver that needs to be completed within specified criteria. Orientation becomes critical.

So just to give you an idea of what my body went though, this is what my stress levels looked like this past week…

Monday: Practice

Tuesday: Practice

Wednesday: Practice

(Funny enough on this day I actually mastered most the moves without much wind effect. I felt good afterwards but still maintained high stress levels. You can even see the nice blue lines during my sleep on the right hand side).

Thursday: Practice

Friday: Recommendation for final skills test

Saturday: Final skills test

This was the final skills test day. With only 11 minutes of flight time, stress was very high but at least short lived. I mean just look at how nicely I slept (throughout the afternoon and later that night). My husband even said I had a new snore that sounded like a burp – I called it a snorby – that’s how deep I slept.

Stress is an amazing thing. And sometimes we can’t predict how our bodies will react in certain circumstances, but we can understand how and why and try to manage that, as best we can.

As you have seen, performance anxiety for me is very real and something I need to do a lot of self-talk around, including simple things like wiggling my toes to help ground myself back into reality and bring the focus back. Chewing gum I hear is also an option.

The good news though, is that all this high level stress has actually paid off and I am officially a qualified drone pilot! Ok it sounds pathetic, but hey – look what I went though to get it! Surely that counts for something!

Decidingly decisive…

For me, one of lifes most difficult tasks is making right decisions, good decisions, especially when seemingly under pressure. We all know there are many guidelines and decision-making steps out there. Some give helpful information and others provide good logical approaches on how one should go about this. I however, sometimes like to swim against the flow and experience life from a different current. And so I have managed to build my own algorithm so to say.

This is how it goes:

1. Listen

Once you have the full picture of the problem or the opportunity, it is here where I try to take a moment to just be still. To really listen. Here I am referring to listening to your heart. You know that deep gut feel. That quiet voice within. Not clouded by emotions or drowned out by voices and the urgency of those pushing you into a corner for an answer, right now! Just be quiet and still, for however long you need.

It really is simple. If you dont have the chance to listen, don’t make the decision. Just from this one simple act I already start to feel more at ease. And out of this will come one, two or possibly many options or choices on what to decide. Once I’m at this point, I progress onwards.

2. Options

List the options or choices, write them down if it makes it easier, or talk them through. For me, speaking out loud in my car helps me formulate and paint the picture to gain a better perspective and understanding. If you need an actual person to bounce this off, then talk it through with someone who can provide an objective point of view with the aim of listing. Remember at this point, it is not to provide the answer, but just to make a list.

Once the options or choices are clearly listed, it’s time to test them. And there’s no better way than to test them against the real heart stuff.

3. Value alignment

The question I ask here is simply this: ‘Does the option or choice align with my values?’

  • Is it honest?
  • Is it authentic?
  • Is it from a place of love?
  • Is it beneficial? (Not detrimental)
  • Is it important? (Not urgent)

If any one of these are in conflict, that option or choice is at this point instantly discarded and I start to work through the next one. When the test is passed, the final part of the algorithm can be tested.

4. Eternal

At this point, the option or choice is probably a good 90 percent there. Don’t be fooled though. It’s so easy to think that the one option or choice that has passed your value test, is indeed the one that must be the solution. Maybe it is, but sometimes it’s not.

The problem if we end the process now, is that if it doesn’t stand this last final test so to say, the decision may appear to be everything you wanted and needed, but often it ends abruptly with no warning, leaving you disappointed and regretful. We all do it so often, losing patience all too quickly. We just need to push through this last tough test of the algorithm. It must be given the chance to prove true or not.

Here I simply look at the present versus the future:

  • Will this option or choice have good, abundant, eternal consequences?
  • Will it stir faith in what I believe?

If it’s YES, then that’s what you need to go with. If it’s NO, maybe you need to reassess. And when you finally make the decision, it may turn out to be the most scariest or most out of character thing for you to do. However, be assured it will have long-lasting good consequences. It will be right.

So there it is. My algorithm on how to be decidingly decisive is based on love:

  1. Listen
  2. Options
  3. Value alignment
  4. Eternal

Love drives!

#Just try it!