Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lucky Charms Enhance Performance?

Research has recently shown that having a lucky charm improved performance on a memory game. The researchers draw the conclusion that lucky charms boost confidence thereby enhancing performance. I’ve written before about pre-performance routines (vs pre-performance rituals). I’ll have to respectfully argue again that it’s not the ritual but the routine that makes the difference.

Take a difficult talk you’re about to give. Preparing carefully and telling yourself you’re going to do a fantastic job are great. Doing a little abdominal breathing helps calm you down. If you have a “lucky” object that you keep in your pocket, touching it occasionally to remind you to breathe, it’s the routine you’ve developed, not just the ritual of the thing, that I suspect makes the difference.

You’re going into a job interview, or preparing to play a tough match. The same principles apply. Do your preparation carefully. If you have an object, it could be a piece of jewelry or a pen, that reminds you of your plan to be calm, or talk slowly, or play smart, that object can add something positive to your routine.

Mood music, of course, Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.

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