The Jugglers Curse

When you learn a new trick there is an amazing feeling of accomplishment inside you. Finally, you worked hard, it’s happened 3 times in a row, you yelp with excitement. YAAAASS! You say to your friend

“yes, yes, I got it”

and they reply “Oh what? show me.”

So you try,

and you drop.

And then drop again.

“No, no, no. I just had it” you say, flustered,

as you fail again.

And your friend laughs at your failure, and you both are disappointed and now you feel ashamed of what you were just so proud of.

I call it the Jugglers Curse.

We all know this problem. But why does it happen?

You were in the zone, but the zone disappeared when you became aware your friend was watching.

The reason is this: Flow is lost when you ask someone to watch. One of the main mechanics of Flow is the “lack of self consciousness” and when you ask someone else to pay attention, you become aware of yourself. You add another “ball” to the pattern, so to speak. The focus and attention that you had changed in-between the moments you nailed that wicked trick, and the point where you were trying to show your friend.

The definition of Flow as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi defines it is“mental state of complete focus, that merges action and awareness, while losing the self-consciousness.”

And from the Psychology Today blog: “Prime focus involves focusing only on performance-relevant cues in your attentional field. In other words, only focusing on cues that help you to perform your best. Depending on the sport, performance-relevant cues can include technique, tactics, your opponent, the score, time remaining, and many other cues. Prime focus gives you the ability to adjust your focus internally and externally as needed during the course of a competition.”

So the next time you feel the urge to show the world that you’ve nailed it, perhaps linger a little longer in that state of complete focus. Or, wait until you are truly ready to add that extra ball. It’s where you want to be. Sharing your enthusiasm is awesome too, but it takes you out of the real game.

Original Photo by Melissa Badamain

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