Psyched Up | Daniel McGinn

Summary of: Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed
By: Daniel McGinn


Are you tired of feeling anxious before a big presentation or performance? Don’t fret – ‘Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed’ by Daniel McGinn offers invaluable insights on how to prepare ourselves mentally for any nerve-wracking situation. In this summary, we’ll explore various techniques to alleviate anxiety, the importance of consistency, how rituals and beliefs impact performance, and the role of pep talks and motivational music in improving our abilities. Discover the power of competition, the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the different ways to unlock your highest potential.

Alleviating Performance Anxiety

Pre-performance anxiety is a common phenomenon that occurs due to the fight-or-flight response to stress. Reappraisal and centering are techniques found to alleviate this pressure. These techniques help convert anxiety into excitement without much effort and bring about renewed focus. Reappraisal consists of perceiving anxiety as excitement, while centering involves deep breathing and muscle relaxation to focus on the body’s physical center.

Consistency, Rituals, and Belief in Performance

Performing well requires consistency, rituals, and belief. Athletes use rituals to improve performance, while group rituals lead to even greater success. Belief and positive contagion are also powerful motivators. In one study, golfers who believed their clubs had belonged to professional golfers performed better. Consistency is crucial in preparing for performances, and rituals help to create a sense of routine and focus. While belief and positive contagion may seem unscientific, they can have a real impact on performance. These factors can help anyone looking to improve their performance, whether it’s in sports or other areas of life.

Two Cognitive Systems

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman outlines the concept of two cognitive systems- system 1 and system 2. System 1 is automatic, operating with little effort, like an autopilot, while System 2 operates slowly and requires concentration. Knowing when to switch between these two systems can affect performance greatly. Richard Jenkins, CEO of a start-up, leverages his knowledge of these systems to give effective speeches. Another phenomenon that affects performance is priming, where subconscious bias influences actions. In an experiment by Yale psychology professor, John Bargh, participants who had encountered “rude” words in a puzzle tended to interrupt a conversation sooner. However, priming is difficult to replicate consciously. Therefore, knowing how to leverage and switch between the two cognitive systems is key to perform effectively.

The Art of a Great Pep Talk

A pep talk that focuses on inputs rather than outputs is more likely to put people in a growth mindset. Tiffanye Vargas’s research revealed that information-heavy pep talks are effective when a team has never played against a particular opponent or suffered a narrow loss. However, when an underdog or championship match is involved, it’s better to appeal to the players’ emotions.

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