Test stress tools for life

While I was writing my book, there was a knock on my door. It was Joe Rizzo, an older man who came to fix our chimney.

He asked me what I do for a living, and I told him simply that I coach people who take tests. He shook his head. “Life is hard,” he said, pointing his finger and jabbing it into the air. “Hard. You have to work for everything. You know what the problem is today? Everyone wants his tummy rubbed. They want things done for them. Whatever you get in life, you have to work hard for. Life is a test.”

He’s right. Life is a test…

On the surface the word “test’  seems to be just about that which goes on in an exam room with an instructor and other students. In fact, my entire coaching career began with helping students.

But, over the years, clients invariably have told me that they’ve been able to apply the performance tools I taught them, not only to school tests, but also to life’s tests. A good example of this was a college student preparing for the MCATs.  There was a lot riding on the test– whether he’d get into medical school and which medical school got into.  His test-taking anxiety was high and this undermined his confidence in himself and his ability to focus. He learned to use the three calming tools and was able to keep his nerves in check throughout the test. At our post-test review session he reported, “Those tools you taught me helped a lot. And not just on the test. Whenever I feel myself getting worked up– like for an internship interview, or if my girlfriend and I are getting into an argument, I remember the tools — breathe, ground, and sense– and I start calming down.”

No matter what kind of job you have or what age you are, you are confronted with new obstacles every day. You have to overcome them, and you’re often expected to do that with sterling results. That is a test. Will you or won’t you perform well?

I have developed the model and designed the tools such that you can take them with you wherever you go.

Just as in the exam room, the content of life’s little tests vary. You might have toask someone on a date, give a speech, fire an employee, or host an important func-
tion. Once again, the constant is you. You’re the one who has to perform. So although you may have picked up this workbook to get by on classroom tests, you will
be able to take what you have learned out into the world. You can apply the tools as well to life as they do to school.

Here’s an exercise for you: close your eyes and imagine a stressful situation you are going to face later today or tomorrow. As you are imagining this see how your stress level goes up. Now, rewind and imagine the situation again, this time though you are consciously using the tools for calming down– breathing, grounding and sensing. Breathe deeply down to your belly, feel your feet on the floor, take in the “bigger picture” through your senses. Feel yourself calming down. Open your eyes. Know that you can face any situation — any test or challenge– when you are calmer.

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