The seven dwarves filed along on our TV screens and sung about whistling while they worked in the mines. It was cute. It was sweet. But we have grown up now and found out the truth about adulthood: the daily grind doesn’t exactly inspire us to burst into song at any given moment.
In the real world, you’re more likely to run into those days that will make you scream rather than whistle.
You know, the big ones where you really blew it right at the most pivotal moment. You froze during a presentation. You blanked when asked a question about your proposal. You somehow let the most important thing of the day go undone. You can’t even explain it. It’s like your brain was out to sabotage you despite all your preparation. We’ve all been there. It hurts. When you’re replaying the moment over and over, trying to figure out what exactly you could have done differently, consider the dwarves’ advice: whistle while you work.
I wish I could say I don’t mean this literally, but I can’t. Whistling or singing helps distract your mind from over-focusing and basically short-circuiting. That’s right, distracting your mind from what you are trying to accomplish is going to help you in that high-pressure, big moment.
If you’ve prepared, planned, and practiced, your only other job is to not choke.
Whistling and singing will distract your brain from trying to control every aspect of a moment and avoid “analysis paralysis”, where you’re over-thinking every little detail and trying to compensate, which results in choking. The art of letting go in a moment and trusting your muscle memory to take over can lead to an optimal rather than sub-par performance.
So, the next time the pressure is on to crush it and you find yourself obsessing, take a deep breath, purse your lips, and embrace the dwarves’ mantra.