5 Performance Killers We All Face and How to Deal with Them

My wife and I were faced with a tough decision a few months ago. 

Now, you have to understand that I have the cutest granddaughter in the world. I know some of you out there have grandkids too, but let me tell you something right now…not one of them is cuter than mine.


The problem is that we live in Florida and she lives in Ohio. I think you see the issue now. Grandma and I just don’t get enough quality time with that cute little bundle of joy. When she says, “Come on, Grandpa, let's go play with toys…” my heart melts like butter in a skillet.

So, we were talking with some friends about our problem and they said, “Why don’t you just move to Columbus?”

Fair question. Here is my response:

  1. Don’t want to move
  2. Hate winter

Then our friend said, "Why don’t you live in Ohio in the summer and winter in Florida."

My knee-jerk reaction was, “I am not old enough to be a snowbird." However, the more I thought about it and the more we talked the more it sounded kind of cool.

So, we decided to buy a small, inexpensive little condo in Ohio. We talked to my financial team who convinced me that because interest rates are low I should borrow some of the money for the condo. This sent me into a bit of an emotional “fight or flight” moment. I really don’t like borrowing money. It is the invasiveness of the process that just turns my stomach: I actually got an email from one of the lenders asking to validate my accounts to prove I was not a money launderer or terrorist. 

Intellectually, I get it. This is the world we live in, but now I have to prove I am  not one of these things for someone to do business with me. When I questioned the banker he blamed it on the Feds.

And some of you still think having the government in healthcare is a good idea. Really?

That is when I realized I have some performance anxieties.  Nothing I need to see a psychiatrist about (at least I don’t think it is that bad,) but there are times when my performance is not as good as it could be. 

When my financial advisor said that I should get a small mortgage on the condo, my flight or flight kicked in, so I did what any good coach would tell their client to do, and sat down to journal my feelings. I also did some research on this idea of emotional distraction and performance.

My Journaling Results

So the first thing I did was to sit down and document what I was feeling. This was not difficult and I came up with this list in under five minutes. It was amazing to me when I sat down and just wrote it out what happened.

  1. Not smart enough. I had this overwhelming feeling like the bankers and loan people would ask me questions that I wouldn’t know the answer to.
  2. Weakness. What if this was a bad decision and someone criticized it along the way?
  3. Rejection. What if they said I didn’t qualify?
  4. Asking for help. The more people who know I am taking out this loan, the more people who could see me as incompetent. After all, Kim and I have really avoided debt for most of our marriage.
  5. Power gradient. I felt like I had to do everything I could to please the lender so they would approve me. 

The Research

In 2002 Kaiser and Kaplan did some research on distortions in performance caused by what they called “sensitivities." These sensitivities are things that have happened to us in our past that now affect how we perform in the present. What they describe in their research that I didn’t realize in my journaling is that there is an underperforming and an overperforming reaction. 

So for example, if a leader gets into a situation where they feel “Intellectually Inadequate” or what I termed “not smart enough," if they respond by “doing too little” they might not contribute in meetings, but if they “overdo it” they might work extreme hours to over compensate for the inadequate feeling.

How About You?

Think about a decision you are going to make soon or a place where your performance is not where you want it. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Do you feel:

  1. Not smart enough
  2. Weak
  3. Rejected
  4. Dependent 
  5. Powerless 

If you have these feelings, are you overcompensating or under compensating? Some of these feelings might run very deep and the cause can stem back to your childhood. 

Sitting down with a journal and analyzing your feeling and understanding them might help you be able to overcome any compensation you are experiencing and put a plan in place to overcome the anxiety.

By the way, I was able to answer all the lenders' questions. It was not that difficult of a process and we should close on our condo this week. I can tell you one thing, being close to my grand baby is going to make any performance anxiety I was dealing with totally worth it.