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Welcome to the People and Projects Podcast where you'll find interviews and insights on how to deliver projects and lead teams!

Nov 8, 2017

"Calm Down" Doesn't Work

What is something in your near future that's causing you to feel nervous? For example:

  • A certification exam that you'll be taking soon
  • A presentation you need to make to your senior management
  • A tough conversation with a team member of stakeholder
  • An interview for a job you really want

When you're faced with having to perform and the stakes are high, it's normal to start feeling nervous. But there's little evidence that just telling someone to "calm down" will provide any benefit. In fact, it might make it worse.

So, what does work? HBR Senior Editor Dan McGinn has a new book that takes on this very topic. In Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed, Dan shares evidence-based insights on how you can overcome your pre-performance anxiety.

What allows you to walk onto the stage or into the testing center or into that meeting room with the eye of the tiger? Dan shares his insights in this episode.

During the recap of the interview, I mention the following episodes, which I recommend for further learning:

  • Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy. Amy builds off her ever-popular TED Talk about using the "super hero" pose and shares ideas on how to be more confident and assertive. My interview with Amy is at
  • Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work, by Cathy Salit. Shakespeare wasn't kidding when he said "All the world's a stage!" Cathy suggests that every interaction is a performance, and when we can see life through that lens, much growth and learning is possible. Our video discussion is at

Thank you for joining me for this episode of The People and Projects Podcast!

DARKENING DEVELOPMENTS by Kevin Macleod Licensed under a Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 License.

EYE OF THE TIGER by Survivor available on Amazon at