|Dr. Paul G. Young|
President and CEO
If you gave ever played a musical instrument in a recital, you know how unnerving the thought of having others' attention focused on you can be. For some, that added pressure leads to lost composure and poise, missed articulations, and the playing of wrong notes. For a few, the added pressure causes a complete breakdown. They come to fear any kind of public performance. Some never recover their confidence. Yet over time for others, performing in public becomes routine - and they thrive under the limelight.
What are some of the skill sets that musicians, athletes, or other performers possess that enable them to confidently perform in the public eye?
First, they are well trained and coached. They have engaged in hours of deliberate practice and have gained mastery of the challenges that cause others to make mistakes. Their determination to work hard, commit, and learn from their mistakes builds confidence.
Second, they have learned how to accept coaching. They thrive on feedback, both positive and negative. They've toughened under the intense scrutiny of their coaches, teachers, and mentors, adapted and learned to meet high expectations. They've learned that it is important not to disappoint others. Yet, they work hardest to continuously improve and to avoid disappointing themselves.
Most importantly, they've acquired the polish of a top performer. They walk onto the stage or playing field with confidence, adhere to the highest standards of grooming and attire, and think positively while staying focused on the task at hand. If they do make mistakes, they've learned to shake them off, recover, and move on. Most observers hardly notice the errors because of the performer's superb control of their nonverbal behaviors.
All kids, not just those who aspire to become athletes or musicians, need opportunities to learn these performance skills. They influence self-esteem and the essential leadership traits. With practice in proper settings, we can teach all kids to learn from their mistakes, practice in deliberate and meaningful ways, speak effectively in public, express themselves with proper grammar, and carry themselves with confidence. These skills are essential for success in job interviews, perhaps even more important than specific, job-related knowledge.
But in order to teach those behaviors and skills effectively, we must model them. Afterschool professionals must willingly and enthusiastically speak in public settings and accept responsibility for leading young people. We must lead our profession. We must step up and become comfortable in the limelight. Positioning ourselves to perform more visibly and in a positive manner will lead to powerful outcomes!
We have great opportunities planned during the NAA National Convention for you to engage in those learning activities. Join us in Orlando, Florida, April 16-18, 2011, to enhance your performance skills.