Being in the right state and controlling your state

In situations such as interviews, presentations, exams, sporting events and potentially challenging meetings at work, many people get in a right state. In this video,  Jeremy covers 7 methods that will help you get into the right state instantly, so that you will be able to ‘perform’ to your best.

Transcript of the video

Modified slightly for readability (the way I speak is somewhat less formal than the way I write!)

Hi, I'm Jeremy Lazarus, welcome to this video. I would like to talk to you about how to be and feel in a really good state. 

What do I mean by a good state? You know those times when you felt really good? It could be:

  • confident
  • positive
  • energised
  • strong and powerful
  • chilled out
  • relaxed
  • calm
  • a combination of the above

For you to be in a good state almost at the click of your fingers, how useful would this be for YOU? For example, in situations such as interviews, presentations, exams, sporting competitions (I do this a lot with my athletes), or some of those 'difficult' or 'challenging' meetings with colleagues, clients, or suppliersThis is what we are going to be covering. 

There are several ways for you to do this. 

1. The first one I want to cover is a topic from NLP called 'anchoring'

Anchoring is about stimulus-response. 

For example, if you hear your favorite piece of music, let's say, one of your favourite dance songs, the moment you hear the first couple of bars, you are going to feel like dancing, you feel energised. If it is a very chilled out piece of music, you might feel relaxed. That stimulus has already been set up during the previous times you heard the song, and the stimulus of hearing it again leads to the response. 

'Anchoring' is about creating your own stimulus-response mechanism. Basically, you would decide on the state (or states) you want to be in and for the purposes of this video, let's just take one. Let's assume you've got an interview coming up and you want to feel really confident. So, what you would do is:

- Think of some times in the past when you felt really confident (a 10/10 level of confidence), and take one previous situation at a time.

- Go back to that time and relive it: see it, hear it, feel it (and maybe even taste and smell it). 

- When you feel really, really confident, do a movement that is unique and replicable (for example, pressing the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand together). The effect of this is that it links the state to this movement. 

- Repeat a few times (maybe 4, 5, 6, 7 times). If and when you need to be in this good state ('confident', using this example), you would repeat the movement (sometimes referred to as 'triggering' or 'firing' your anchor) and you would feel confident, in the same way that the music invokes a really good state in you. 

So this is the first thing you can do, to set yourself what we call a resource anchor

2. Linked to this, you could do some mental rehearsal. 

Mental rehearsal is something that most elite athletes would use. Let me give you some tips. Again, let's stick with the interview situation. What you would do is imagine that you are looking at a cinema screen (or television screen), and on that screen you are seeing yourself in different scenarios at the interview (for example, one interviewer, several interviewers; they're asking easy questions or hard questions). 

So you will be standing or sitting, firing your anchor, feeling really good and watching yourself in all those scenarios, typically 5, 10, maybe 15 different scenarios and doing each really quickly. Each time you will see yourself responding in a really good (in this case confident and positive) way. This whole part wil ltypiclaly take a minute or two.

Once you have done this, you do exactly the same, except instead of watching yourself, you do it as if you are already there. So, in all these different scenarios (e.g. difficult questions, or a panel interview), you are responding really effectively and in this case, confidently. 

I usually find with my clients and course delegates that using mental rehearsal to help prepare (including the different scenarios) helps them to feel even more confident, because they know that they can handle pretty much whatever happens in the interview. So, you have anchoring followed by mental rehearsal

3. Another method you could use is to remember to breathe

Breathing is really important (I was smiling to the camera when I said this!), and sometimes when people get a bit anxious they forget to breathe as deeply as they otherwise would. I’m not a physiologist, but I do know that if you do not breathe as deeply, it can lead to you feeling more anxious. 

So, remember just to calm yourself down by breathing. If for example the interviewer were to ask you a difficult question in the interview, just take a deep breath before answering. 

4. Another way to be in a really good state is to use music.

Almost everyone now has got a mobile phone with some kind of music facility. Play yourself some music which is going to get you in a really good state. It could be some chilled out music, it could be classical music, it could be your favorite dance song, whatever music gets you in the state that you want to be in, you can play that before the event. I am assuming you cannot play it during the interview or during the presentation, but certainly you can use it to get into a really good state. 

5. Another way to get into a really good state is to find some activity which distracts you in an appropriate way. 

For example, many years ago, I played football semi-professionally and I was a goalkeeper. What I realised was, if I thought about the match too much beforehand, I would get too het up about it, too energised, and I would normally play badly if I did that. 

What I learned was that I needed to find ways to completely distract myself, so it could be that I would perhaps use music or I would just have conversation with people before the match about something unrelated, rather than just thinking about the match all the time. So for you, if for example you've got an interview, perhaps read a book, or watch a video, something that is completely unrelated, so that when you get to the event, you have not built up too much nervous energy. 

6. Another method which broadly links to the above is physical activity.

When I was doing research for one of my books, I came across the following: David Hemery, who won the Olympic Gold in the 400 metres hurdles in Mexico in 1968, said that before the final he felt really nervous, and he noticed that himself. One of the things he did was he just went for a little run, just maybe 30, 40, 50 yards, just to get rid of the nerves. 

So, doing some kind of physical activity to get the nerves out of your body might be a good thing to do. I know of people who, before some kind of presentation, will go into a private room or even into a toilet cubicle and stand and wave their arms about all over the place just to get really energised and get the tension out of their body so they can just feel really calm. 

7. The final thing I want to talk about is linked to the previous point and that is to adopt what I call a 'physiology of excellence'

All of us, whether we are standing or sitting, will be able to stand or sit in a way that makes us feel good, as opposed to a way that makes us feel a little bit negative. The way we stand or sit (and for many people it’s sitting quite upright with their shoulders back, so they get plenty of air in their lungs), this sort of posture will probably help you to feel more confident than sitting in a hunched, shrinking posture. 

Experiment for yourself, find different postures that work for you, either standing or sitting, because in most interviews, you are going to be sitting down, and in most presentations you will be standing up.

To summarise: 

  • Anchoring
  • Mental rehearsal
  • Breathing
  • Music
  • Distraction
  • Using some kind of physical outlet
  • Using a physiology of excellence

Any or all of these can help you to be in a really good state really quickly.  Find the one(s) that work for you.

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