Rituals That Signal Heightened Performance Focus
When he played for the New York Mets, former All-Star catcher Mike Piazza would start his year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve by hitting fastballs in a batting cage. Before making a critical business decision, the CEO of Retro Fitness lies on a mat that simulates a bed of nails. Former ballerina Suzanne Farrell pinched herself just before going on stage. Pro golfer Greg Norman turns the headcover on his driver just before teeing off in a tournament. Tennis star Serena Williams bounces the ball exactly five times before her first serve and two times before her second serve. The founder of a Dallas public relations firm says a simple prayer before every big meeting or interview. Former third baseman Wade Boggs drew the Hebrew symbol for life in the dirt as he entered the batting box.
Rituals that signal an increased focus on execution are common among some best performers and leaders. These calculated actions send a clear message to the mind. Now is the time to concentrate and perform at the highest level.
Once the ritual becomes a habit, they work to calm the mind and increase execution awareness. Such transition cues also reduce anxiety and enhance confidence in high-pressure situations and moments. They announce to the mind that the performer is set and ready to execute.
Over time, transition rituals give performers the comfort they need to perform at their best. The habit of signaling to the mind that this is the moment for hyper-focus allows performers to shed doubt and distraction. Like engaging a stick shift, the mind learns to slip into the gear required for top performance.
In high-stakes moments, nothing matters more than maintaining a singular focus on execution. Transition rituals prepare the mind for that focus. Consider inventing a ritual that sets sharp focus and execution in motion.