Performing well under pressure is often the goal of individuals' personal development plans, since it allows people to achieve success in a number of circumstances. Researchers at the University of Chicago believe that attaining this ability may be a matter of building confidence.
Sian Beilock, associate professor in psychology at the university, has extensively studied the effects that stress has on performance. She is the author of the book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To.
She and her team recently published a paper in the journal Emotion, explaining how stress can be a boon to some and a bane to others.
"If a student interprets their physiological response as a sign they are about to fail, they will. And, when taking a math test, students anxious about math are likely to do this. But the same physiological response can also be linked to success if a student's outlook is positive," Beilock said.
Her research revealed that many people fail at tasks because they hold onto fears and get distracted by worries. Additionally, some become too focused on their performance, letting self-consciousness get the best of them.
Authors of the study noted that performance can be enhanced by planning ahead, which has been known to reduce anxiety and help individuals reach personal growth and development.
Philosopher and trailblazer Ilchi Lee believes that it is possible to push all negativity out of the brain using meditation techniques and replace it with positive thoughts and ideas. Results of this study suggest that this may be an effective way to help individuals succeed in difficult tasks throughout life, not just for those in school.