Performance Improves When You Take the Pressure Off Yourself

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Have you ever felt completely drained? Exhausted even? Apparently we require seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Fair enough, but there have been many occasions when I’ve gotten six hours of sleep and felt significantly better than I did when I only got eight. Why?

I recently attended a seminar about mindful eating. The nutritionist told us that when you commit to chewing your food into a paste (he recommended 20-25 times), you leave your digestion system with less work. That means that your energy can be allocated somewhere else. I think the same thing happens with fear. When you put all of your energy towards suppression, there’s little left over for creation.

“Performance Improves when you take the pressure off yourself”
– Robert K. Cooper

Being creative and taking risks – that all takes energy. If you stopped putting energy into comparison and fear, wouldn’t that leave energy for growth? Energy for play? Energy for discovery? Even scarier, perhaps this pressure has the ability to numb any natural gifts that you shouldn’t have to work for anyway. Perhaps pressure is the greatest enemy to natural talent. Some of my greatest discoveries and creations have occurred in the absence of any obsessive preparation or hours spent staring at a blinking cursor. Taking the pressure off yourself also involves believing in yourself, and for some reason this often feels like the hardest thing in the world to do.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to stop questioning”
– Albert Einstein

There is most certainly a difference between quality and quantity, and producing quality work doesn’t necessarily correlate with time, blood, sweat and tears. As I move forward in my artistic endeavours one of the biggest things that I’m learning is that sometimes things can just be easy. Also, more importantly, sometimes things can be fun. And when you take the pressure of yourself things can get really fun. I think being a successful artist involves letting go, silencing your inner critic (ie your thoughts) and having fun experimenting with your chosen craft. Art shouldn’t be about trying to be the best. It should be about discovering your voice, experimenting and playing… just like when we were kids.