Ever notice that some people perform well under pressure while others seem to wilt? As the chart above suggests, we typically need some level of anxiousness in order to care enough to perform. But at some point the level of anxiousness becomes debiliating causing a drop-off in performance. But at what point does this happen?
Peyton Manning, the SuperBowl winning quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts has said that he typically does not get nervous or anxious before big games because he knows he has prepared himself as fully as he possibly could. In his mind, there is little to be anxious about when you’ve left no stone unturned in preparation. Anxiety is tied to the degree of preparation.
When we present an important proposal, or solicit that major donor, how prepared are we? Do we know our audience as well as we possibly could? Have we done research on their capacity, other charitable interests, and history with our own organization? Have we spent ample time building the relationship so that appropriate relational capital is present? If so, we will find ourselves in the middle area of this chart, relaxed, enjoying the experience, peak performance, and most likely success. If not, we may find ourselves on the right-hand side of this chart – with high anxiety and a corresponding low level of performance. How prepared will you be today?