Nervousness is Iust another Word for Fear: Deal With It!

That is Tiger Woods, winner of 81 PGA tournaments including 15 majors, talking to Golf Digest about how he feels when he is in competition. To be honest, when I first read this quote, I asked myself, “Really? Tiger gets nervous?”

But of course, he is a human being after all. Although he may look steely and composed on camera (except when he muffs a shot), Tiger confides to us that like everyone else he gets nervous when he needs to perform. So, what’s the difference between Tiger’s nerves and anyone else’s? Self-management! “It’s ho I channel it, how I harness it. How do I put that energy into deeper focus or deeper intensity?” Tiger adds. “That’s something we all can do. It’s not being afraid of it or ashamed of it. Go after it.”

Professional golf is a world away from work, of course, but Tiger’s insight into performance anxiety is applicable to anyone in management. Most often we think of nerves as affecting a presentation we must make, to the board, the boss or even to colleagues. Even when we have our message down pat, and have taken time to rehearse, we wonder how we will do.

Speaking more broadly such anxiety goes far beyond presentations. Managers feel tension and anxiousness about decisions they may face. They wonder how they will be judged, and they worry about outcome: “Did I make the right choice?”

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