It happens to all of us. You’ve prepared for days, weeks, even years for the big day when you will finally show your stuff—in academics, in your career, in sports—but when the big moment arrives, nothing seems to work. You hit the wrong note, drop the ball, get stumped by a simple question. In a word, you choke. It’s not fun to think about, but now there’s good news: This doesn’t have to happen.
Dr. Sian Beilock reveals the astonishing new science of why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. What happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety? And what are we doing differently when everything magically “clicks” into place and the perfect golf swing, tricky test problem, or high-pressure business pitch become easy? In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, with surprising insights on every page, Beilock explains the inescapable links between body and mind; reveals the surprising similarities among the ways performers, students, athletes, and business people choke; and shows how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most.
In lively prose and accessibly rendered science, Beilock sheds new light on counterintuitive realities, like why the highest performing people are most susceptible to choking under pressure, why we may learn foreign languages best when we’re not paying attention, why early childhood athletic training can backfire, and how our emotions can make us both smarter and dumber. All these fascinating findings about academic, athletic, and creative intelligence come together in Beilock’s new ideas about performance under pressure—and her secrets to never choking again. Whether you’re at the Olympics, in the boardroom, or taking the SAT, Beilock’s clear, prescriptive guidance shows how to remain cool under pressure—the key to performing well when everything’s on the line.
If you’ve ever gestured your hands wildly in order to yank a word off the tip of your tongue, or if you’ve sat up straighter in a meeting to feel more confident and alert, then you already know some of the ways the body can impact the mind. But what if that’s just the tip of the iceberg? In fact, recent research shows that the extent to which the body affects the brain is greater than we’d ever imagined – revealing extraordinary ways you can use your body to improve your mind and your performance in all areas of life.
We often think of the brain as the master control center – interpreting experiences, deciding what to do, and pulling the levers of the body. Sian Beilock, a leading expert on the brain science behind human performance and professor in the psychology department at the University of Chicago, turns our understanding of the mind upside down in How the Body Knows Its Mind. As far as your brain is concerned, there isn’t much of a line between what happens in your body and what happens in your mind and in fact, our bodies actually hack our brains. The way we move affects our thoughts, our decisions, our preferences. Kids absorb more when they use their bodies as a learning tool. Called “embodied cognition,” this new science illuminates the power of the body and its physical surroundings to shape how we think, feel, and behave: Pacing around the room can enhance creativity; walking in nature boosts concentration skills; Botox users experience less depression; fit children score higher on tests in school.
From the tricks used by advertisers to the ways body language can improve your memory to how to master public speaking, Beilock explains a wealth of fascinating interconnections between mind and body and shows how mastering them can make us happier, safer, and more successful.