Get the best Out Of Anxiety | New Harvard Article

by Francesca Gino, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

Anxiety can hobble even the most confident leaders. In this Harvard Business Working Knowledge article “When Your Nerves Get the Best of You, Change the Narrative” Francesca Gino offers three strategies that she uses to turn nerve-wracking situations into meaningful experiences.

Expect to do well

“This phenomenon holds true outside of medicine. How I expect to do at something beforehand—whether a meeting with a potential client, a joint project with new colleagues, or teaching a class full of executives—actively influences how I actually do. When I expect to do well, I feel more comfortable and excited, and as a result, I perform better. Not only that, research shows that I am also judged by others as more competent”

Reframe your anxiety as excitement

“This is how I ultimately made the turn with my stressful teaching gig: As I kept walking across campus to face the room full of executives, I decided to think of class as a great learning opportunity—even if I bombed. My anxiety about all the ways I wasn’t like the other instructors, I told myself, was really excitement about being included among such an accomplished team. This reframing worked: I felt far less stressed, and the program went well. I did learn from the experience, and eventually I became a regular teacher in the executive education programs”.

Focus on your strengths

“In the face of a challenge, then, one of the best strategies for engaging with our anxiety is to recall, and steer into, what we’re good at. Think of how coaches work with professional athletes: They might do some work on “weaknesses,” but mostly they are building on areas of tremendous skill. In the same way, when we turn our attention to our areas of greatest competence—rather than focus on all the ways we fall short—we allow our true selves to shine. This authenticity makes us more likely to secure jobs, higher ratings in our presentations, and money for entrepreneurial ventures or deals“.

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