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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Thursday, 20 June 2013


Edgbaston, Cricket World Cup 1999 semi-final.  South Africa need 1 run off the last two balls to beat their arch-rivals, the mighty Australians, for a place in the final.  In disorgansied panic, Allan Donald and Lance Klusener lose their heads, contrive to get run out and the Ozzies march into the CWC final.  Fast-forward to June 2013 and the whole South Africa team, bar one or two exceptions, lose their heads and bow out of the Champions Trophy semi-final in similar fashion.  In fact, look back 20 years and there is only one piece of silverware that they have brought home from any meaningful tournament, despite on each occasion having a team which, on its day, could have won each tournament.  South African cricketers carry the choker's tag and can't seem to shake it off.  Why?  In fact, why do any if us choke under pressure?

When the pressure mounts and the stakes get high, it is easy to become fearful of failure. The mind gets caught in a tyranny of "have to's" and "or else's": I have to do well; I have to succeed; I have to be careful; I have to...take no risks...not fail...look good...be careful...win OR ELSE I'll lose...look stupid...be no good...let everyone down...be not good enough...be unreliable...be a failure.

The problem is that the fear of failing has you doing things differently, the way you wouldn't normally do them, in order to avoid failing or losing.  And when you do things differently, you get different results.  Your natural game in a cricket match may be attacking and aggressive.  Now you get scared that that approach might cause you to lose your wicket, so you play a conservative and cautious game - unnatural for you - and bring about the very result you most fear.

 The challenge is to break the cycle of "have to's" and "or else's" And see them cor the illusions that they are.  As long as those are present, you are living in a state of survival and there's nowhere to hide. 

It requires plenty of breath and a step through the fear into a place of anticipatory excitement.  As long as you're breathing, you're not choking.

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