Prepare to Perform
Welcome to another edition of “Learning from My Young-uns” – where I’m reminded yet again that lessons can come from everyone you interact with, and humbly accept that my kids are among my best teachers (sshhhh don’t let them know). In today’s episode we face THE AUDITION PROCESS, where my newly-minted teen daughter faces the stressful process (it seems far more stressful for her bystander mom than for the auditionee herself) of trying to get into the high school of her dreams.
Why am I sharing an event in our lives that likely applies to none/very few of you? Because having to navigate stressful situations is universal. Because intuitive and learned responses for performing well under pressure are universal. And because (wink, wink) maybe you can all join me in pouring positive energy into my girl’s chances of receiving the news she’s hoping for in the coming weeks.
What do you do when a stressful situation looms? Do you lose sleep? Over-indulge in those oh-so-soothing sugars and carbs? Let your mind run wild in ‘dooms-day’ predictions? Or do you turn to calming strategies of meditation and breathing exercises, seek knowledge that will calm fear of the unknown and envision exactly what you want? Truthfully – I’m a reformed ‘all of the former’ character trying to teach my daughter (and therefore reinforce for myself) to skip the drama and employ the latter. So, I thought I’d share a bit of what we (errr… she) did.
One of the biggest challenges with this process is the amount of time between each step. It’ll be a total of 4 months from declaring interest to receiving her acceptance letter. That’s a lot of time for questions to build, anticipation to swirl, and anxiety to overtake if you let it. Here’s what I encouraged her to do: 1 – Stay busy, especially with positive/enjoyable/empowering activities – raising your ‘vibration’ not only makes the time feel like it’s going faster, but (in the world of energy) like attracts like… so worry brings about more opportunity to worry, while joy and success bring about more opportunities to experience those. 2 – Find credible information – the brain is built to find answers so it will rev on a question until it’s satisfied, or worse, it will ‘create’ an answer for itself built on fearful assumptions and take it for truth leading her to create mountains where molehills are meant to be. With a little bit of internet ingenuity, she was able to scope out school activities, connect with other students and auditionees and even find out a bit about the audition process. 3 – Prepare – this step was about avoiding the out-of-sight-out-of-mind strategy that can lead to panic in the end. A slow and steady progression of getting ready meant that she could be calm when go-day arrived knowing that a strong ground-work had been laid down. Just like in school when teachers emphasized writing and revising and revising and revising, she prepared her best effort then sought outside critique and amended, practiced and practiced some more.
Before we knew it, auditions were a week away and it was time to kick preparation into high gear. When nerves got high, we worked on breathing – ‘4-square breathing’ is my go-to strategy: breath in for count of 4, hold for 4, breath out for count of 4, hold out for 4. Focusing on this rhythmic pattern drives the sub-conscious brain into a meditative state. Since you can’t hold onto 2 states at the same time, the panicky feeling must be released. We worked on future-pacing: teaching the brain how we wanted the day to play out by getting specific about envisioning every step of the process in detail and building up how each stage would feel. The subconscious brain works on pictures and feelings, so we dove into the details of imagining the room, the panel, the performance and the reaction, focusing on feelings of excitement, accomplishment, satisfaction and calm. World class athletes do the very same thing, picturing their race or competition in such fine detail that on game day all that’s left to do is replay familiar steps. And, of course, there was lots of rehearsal so that the day of performance she could rely on muscle memory to shine through. Finally, we picked an outfit that made my little star feel confident and polished. I believe that dressing for the success you want can’t be underestimated, and standing out from the crowd should be a source of pride rather than anxiety. A well-loved mentor of mine often said, “When opportunity knocks, OPEN THE DOOR… and don’t be wearing your pajamas”, meaning be as ready outwardly as you are inwardly, project the image you want people to see, and don’t hesitate to jump in. As BEST is a technique that updates how thoughts and emotions affect how we’re feeling and functioning, it was a natural asset to the process too.
I’ll just wrap up today’s thoughts with telling you the result of all this preparation (well not THAT result…. we’re all counting the days until that’s revealed). Dropped off at the check-in point, my little starlet STRODE into her audition. She was excited and confident and ready to take-no-prisoners. And she came back just the same way. “It went GREAT” she said. She performed just like she’d practiced, she answered interview questions thoroughly and without hesitation, she let her personality shine through as much as her performance. Nothing rocked her game. And THAT is the real success of this story.
Now bring on that admission letter!