At this point, I’d like you to stop reading and think back over three recent activities. First recall an occasion in which you failed to function at your optimum because you were insufficiently motivated. In other words too far to the left of the graph. Reflect on your feelings as well as on your performance. Were you bored, apathetic, disinterested, or tired? How did these negative feelings affect things such as concentration, hand-eye co- ordination, creativity, problem solving skills, persistence, mental focus and so on. If you were listening to your inner voice what sort of things was it saying to you? Copy the curve shown above and place an “X” on the line approximating to your level of performance under those circumstances. The position of this mark on the performance curve also shows your likely level of physical and mental arousal on that occasion.
Now recall an occasion when you failed to achieve your true potential because you were too far over on the right of the curve. As before reflect on your emotions in that situation. Were you overly apprehensive, anxious, fearful or panicky? How did these negative emotions affect your performance? Did your self-confidence take a knock? Did you find it impossible to stay focused, to concentrate and recover from a setback? If you heard an inner voice, what was it saying to you? Draw an “X” on the graph to indicate your level of performance.
Finally consider a time when everything really clicked and you performed at the peak of your true potential. As in the previous two instances, try and remember how you felt emotionally, intellectually and physically? Reflect also on what your inner voice was saying at the moment of triumph. Were the words coming into your mind entirely positive – ‘Yes! I can really crack this…’ or tinged with self-doubt. As before mark this point on the curve.
This exercise is helpful because it helps to bring into the forefront of your mind both the negative and positive consequences that follow from differing levels of arousal.