I was watching a golf tournament recently where golfer Lee Trevino was putting on the eighteenth green to win the tournament. He missed the relatively short putt and eventually lost in a playoff game. The announcer said the pressure must have gotten to him. He probably wouldn’t sleep for a few nights worrying about the missed putt because he did not win the 1.4 million dollar first prize and had to settle for “only” 800,000 dollars. He said it best when asked if he worried while on the golf course. He said, “Pressure is playing a hole for five dollars when you only have two dollars in your pocket.” People worry all the time and it is unnecessary and unproductive.
My seventh grade son worried for the last month if he was going to ruin his straight A average by getting a B in social studies. He worried for hours on end and when report cards came he ended up with straight A’s. He is only in seventh grade. I tried to tell him just do your best and I will always be proud of you, but sometimes that does not resonate because other kids are so worried about their grades and he feels their pressure.
Academic success is very important, more so in this day and age than ever before, but everything has to be put into perspective. I remember shaking during a test because I was so nervous and I would not be able to recall material that I knew and would do worse on test because of nerves. I would love to relive my high school and college years spending time enjoying my youth instead of spending countless hours freaking out about the consequences of making a couple of mistakes on exams. I teach kids and adults how to be prepared for tests and how to make your mind more powerful and work more efficiently and reach your full potential, without putting pressure on themselves.
A few years ago I spent the day speaking to students at one of the top high schools in the Chicago area. During lunch, I was talking to the head of the math department and was telling her how impressed I was with the high school and asked her if the administration had any major issues. She said, “Our biggest problem is how to stop student suicides. These kids are under so much pressure to succeed.” This really saddened me because kids need to believe that if they do the best they can in this world, they will be okay.
My friend sent his three children to another top performing area high school and he told me that on parent/student orientation day the auditorium was filled with parents and excited but nervous incoming freshmen. The principal said that before he said anything to the students he wanted to talk to the parents first. He asked, “How many of you think you have a happy life?” Almost all of the parents raised their hands. Then the principal asked, “How many of you went to an Ivy League college?” Everyone put their hand down. He then said, “You see, you don’t have to go to an Ivy League college to have a happy life. Please don’t make your kids believe they have to be in the top 1 percent to be happy or successful.”
After all of the observations in life that I have made about the negative effects of worrying constantly is that it leads to everything but good. In life, there are a ton of factors that cause everyone to worry, and that’s normal. It’s something that everyone has to deal with at one point or another, but something to stride for would be to take all of the worries that life has given to you and not let it dominate life’s pleasures. So take a moment, put the family, friends and everything else into perspective and put them as priorities to think and care about, while taking the worries and keeping them to a minimum. We only live once on this Earth, and worries should not consume any part of the privilege of living.
By Mike Byster: www.mikebyster.com