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The Happiness Lab Presents: How To! with Charles Duhigg

2019-12-20

In this special episode of Happiness Lab, we feature an episode of the podcast How To! with Charles Duhigg. Mike’s dream job of playing bass in a Chicago orchestra is within reach — if only he can conquer his nerves and master the audition. Duhigg brings in Dr. Don Greene, a peak performance psychologist who’s worked with Wall Street traders and Olympic athletes, to see if he can help Mike perform his best under the spotlight. The secret? Jumping jacks, extra sleep, and watching reruns of The Office.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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He happiness. Lab listeners will soon be back with our seas into and twenty twenty, but today, where future a special episode of the podcast. How to with Charles do him from sight. Charles is the author of one of my favorite books, the power of habit, he's a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who takes listeners, toughest problems and finds them expert. Tops open, how to choose a lot of the same concepts as the happiness lab and in this episode Charles hears from buying a professional musician who has an upcoming audition. For his dream job in a big Chicago orchestra. Mike is super nervous about playing well under pressure, so Charles brings in Doktor Don Green, a peak perform it psychologist, whose work with everyone from Wall Street traders to olympic gold medalists as a former green break down, some surprising advice that all of us can use to mentally prepare for that next job interview, so people name to find out if MIKE nailed that audition and make sure it
strive to how to with Charles do it for more I've changed vice wherever you get your pot casts, if musicians get off to a good start, that probably gonna play the recipe swell all problems command in the first phrases, because this is where all the pressure builds up before the weeks demands before thinking about this or dishes worrying about- and I cannot sleep and you dont know until that. First no comes out if it's gonna come out, gotta, not so what people do say hesitating they play it safe and asked what loses. Audition welcome to how to I'm trolls. Do it each week on the show, we hope folks figure out how to bring their aim to life's toughest challenges, and under these absurd we gotta listener. They very special talent. My name is Michael Martin. I made
basis. I'm from Allentown Pennsylvania might reach out to us about an upcoming audition, its form the Chicago Lyric Opera, which is an amazing orchestra. The city that I really love makes reference lives near Shikar into landing. But in the Chicago Lyric opera. There would be amazing, but in this addition Michael become against dozens of other classical musicians, some of whom have been playin professionally for years and is now nervous about reforming under all that pressure, I'm thinking, lot about how much I want this job and how much it means to me. It would mean, like a perfect, a perfect life for me, dream job in a dream city I get because to my girlfriend, so there those thoughts kind of sir weighing on me, and I keep thinking like I have to do as well as I possibly can. You know. No no amount of of of error is
chapter one the end and then I I end up being myself for being a like a human being and that that leads to me in the audition feeling all of those thoughts while I'm trying to play. In addition, MIKE, is going through it all of us, There is some point we, whether it's getting ready to play in the big game or delivering of expenditure for preparing for the big job interview. How do we get ready? Everyone says just be amazing. But how do you keep your cool and do your best when there's so much pressure in so much on the line on today's episode will bring in a performance a guy who was once a Green Bray and now trains, athletes for the Olympics and we'll find out. Can you help make nail the audition? stay with us MIKE first picked up the base when he was in the
a great deal of the fact that, with the base one year, when you just playing an open stringer sending you can feel the vibrations of it like not just in not just where you contact the instrument but like throughout your whole body, you're such a visceral feeling too by the base and I, love the sound of it too, When MIKE was engineer, high, his class took a field trip to the New York Philharmonic in on the programme. The day was boosts, F mothers I remember almost everything about the concert. I remember the conductor. His name is Alan Gilbert I remember who was playing principle base at the time I remember everything about the concert Hall and I'm sitting this all my friends and I just It doesnt really get any better than this make just a few years out of court. Which is currently a diversity fellow at the Cincinnati Symphony. It's a fellowship
So it's meant you get me a permanent job in an orchestra in the future. So it's it's not a permanent peace, concern and therefore for the next two years and are we taking our and hopefully getting into a profession orchestra, but so far it's been. There have been some ups and downs in it's it's a difficult process, the the level as you so incredibly high nowadays again to an orchestra It's an inherently a very difficult thing to do so. Tell me what the last time you got knocked down What was it an audition where you try out for something the last last like difficult extra, they had auditioning was for the principal base of the Omaha Symphony. I were from once you know, I worked really well really diligently and for every audition based players have to play. One movement of Solo Bach at I've got that in the bag I've been playing that fill us ten or eleven years, and I soon super confident
It's it's a peace that I know so well and then I I put the ball in the string and I play the first know, and it is made an awful like squeaking sound. It wasn't in tune and it really got to my head and all the thoughts that I don't really well at putting out of my head before that all came rushing back and I just felt like. Maybe I'm not good enough for this adventure I recovered, but I I got disqualified after that round sum: and look how many hours a day or you practising right now, currently on practising between four and a half to five hours a day, ok and in the rest of the time I you like, like thinking but that the music incessantly, I think to some degree. You can't help but think about it incessantly because you're either thing about what it will mean for your life. If you can get it or you're thinking about what could I do to make it better and that's why we turn to this guy? My name is Doctor Danbury. I may peak performance psychologists. What does that mean? While it means, if I have
elite. Performers, where earlier musicians, singers actors or athletes to do their best to depression, how did you get into the headline of worker. I grew up as a competitive ass. I was a gymnast diver. Can I I do have a division, one level I was pretty good, but I was very erratic. I could easily be dazzling amazing and hit the toughest dives toughest, looking dives and then then miss the easiest of dies, and it was due to my not understanding about pressuring how to handle nerves or anxiety in competition or under pressure. So I was in the army for five years after I got out. Back to graduate school and got my phd in sport. Psychology to understand what happened to me and when I found out happens to a lot of people under pressure, and I did that for about ten years working with elite athletes spring
divers formula, one race, car drivers, police, Swat officers, professional golfers, tennis buyers, and then I happened to meet a fast one musician. He happened to be a bit. Player and he was my help with his coffee, and I saw that teaches always thought his parts like he stood over them for ever and funny jab that the plan to go where exactly I started talking to about focusing waste. Quiet as mine waste, to focus any say that everything that we had done with him. It is putting pertained to him as a principle based player and would I be interested in working class means musicians. I thought yeah. That's half really interesting. I'd love to dawn was incredibly successful. Working with musicians any went on to teach for nearly a decade juilliard, and then he helped coach traders on Wall Street and after that he started working with runners and shot potter's, another Olympians. Many of
We have gone on to win gold medals. I dont know anything about that, were about Wall Street? It's not important for I dont know how to play the base. It's not important that I know it's its understanding the mine behind movement, because all of these things involve complicated, coordinated, move and the mining the helps no process or gets underway, and is what Yogi Young embarrassing that ninety percent of sports, his mental and the other half his physical? Because the court starts racing blood pressure goes up. Breathing changes, people start perspiring. People start shaking the ice, DR scanning moving around looking for this third at danger. That's a distraction and those are just a few of the physical symptoms and this mental Simpson S. People give very critical self conscious,
down on themselves and musicians, get out of touch with their bodies in their fingers in their Boeing in their vibrio athletes, get out of touch with the body in and start acting clubs, and then this emotional saying it's just fear, and so it comes down to not one of the precious going to be. That's got to be that's what you do with it, whether you make use of it or whether abuses you weren't, epic athletes have learned from sports ecologist is how to use energy to jump higher, run faster, that's fascinating! So your job isn't, isn't it teach them avoid the pressure or to deal with the pressure exerted by the title. As that's counterproductive, it's gonna be there. They can deny to push it away or learn how to is it ok? I want to learn how to do that. But before I do, let me ass MIKE when question might win dawn was describing that leg dear and the headlights, the anxiety. Here, heart rate is going up and did that to that
sound familiar to what you experience. Oh yeah, definitely yeah yeah, that's the same exact sensation. You know you just kind of like freeze you, you start questioning like driving, know how to hold my instrument anymore. That definite rings true every aspect of it when we go back, we learn how to use that panic to your advantage. We're back performance, psychologist, Don Green and our listener MIKE who wants to win his dream job with the Chicago Lyric Opera and on first role in preparing yourself were big performances
Don't try to be relaxed, don't pretend you can stop your jittery nerves instead, learn to channel that nervousness and energy into positive momentum. Donald like how to do that when he walks into the audition. If this is that are important to the adrenaline, can kick and you're describing the situation where this is your dream job, it's a perfect job with perfect job rescue life without the Chicago opera. You operate girlfriend Nevins. This is absolutely perfect, which, to my mind, is thirty word it. I know I can hear any voice. You either have protectionist tendencies. We are protectionist and Anne S like a triple whammy, because there is no perfection in music is too challenging, but there is a difference between protectionism and striving for excellence. I'm a big fan of striving for excellence that you
do desire is very important, but if you are focused on winning focused on IRAN, thankfully really not have control over their Buddha said that attachment to results the cause of our suffering and you're all ready, dreamily attached to these dissolves MIKE what you think that I think that sounds sounds very true when you said that I was a protectionist. You definitely are correct, yeah? I definitely think about about playing things perfectly alot As much as I know that that's kind of a lost cause, that's the next rule. Don't strive for perfection strive instead for, like a kind of loose sense of control,
focus on the things where you know you're in charge and and let yourself explore the freedoms that exist inside those choices and end, then all the things that you can control like like hitting the notes perfectly or what the judges are gonna. Think as much as you can ignore those things completely. One of the things I ask musicians who do is put a piece of music on the stand. That's though, difficulty high energy. So what you do is you set it up turn a tape recorder on you, leave the room and get your heart rate up far higher than it,
ever feels in your most anxious state. Get the blood flowing, get your heart pumping relic, jumping Jack's. They had had a yak here, Joplin Eyes, squatter, guys, warlike, like skews doing just squat like an invisible charity, hearts pounding, but also mentally. Imagine that you gonna go in the audition panel from the Chicago Europe is waiting to hear you play so put pressure on yourself, but in spite of that, going there pick up the instrument and play with reckless abandon total disregard for intonation pitch tempo. The goal is to find freedom. Perfectionism ties you up in knots, fear bind you like rubber band around your body. Make a lot of mistakes. Explore freedom. Do this to a three times a day, don't listen to the recordings and you get the idea and start to feel the energy star to ride the wave
started, drive the music and then after two seven, eight nine times, then listen to the recordings from the beginning in your watch, your progress in finding freedom in any construct, reining in n, n n you're not worried about someone learning bad habits, because I like, when I listen to this, I think to myself what enough you know athletes have musician you're. All about trying all about better and better and better right, your spouse, Sir, get better control. This is how you get control you by letting go of control and that over controlling that's the problem. So here's what you do star was jumping Jack's or a really any physical activity that like revs you up in remind yourself. You control your body and then play with enough abandoned that you can find that freedom. You know you have. I think that sends a great advice, then that's definite sending them Some of my men tours have told me too, though, say like sounds great lakes,
Intune, really good. Sound sounds like you really know well, but it just sounds. A little bit held back sounds like a little bit control not you know, really taking any chances and yeah. I think my expressiveness sometimes suffers because of that, because I'm not really horse now feel happy morally, sometimes so, you're not freight. This will give you a sense of freedom that I think you'll find very fresh, yeah, ok in what we're going to get to the additional second. But what else does he do to mentally prepare himself flowered visiting a lot? A lot of things to many people. Do the wrong things the last two weeks they overplay don't get enough sleep obsess too many lessons and they go in
Lastly, thinking think it will tired enough the adrenaline mon affect them, and then it's a double whammy. So, starting now you want to watch your time, but not over practice, but you do things not normally used doing like take the whole day off the on Sundays. An important ingredient, how many hours to city normally get I try to get seven and eight, but most of the time I get closer like six so tat. His are such a study showing how important sleep is too optimal, functioning and most people think eight hours is it they did. A study was highly functional people and they took the people that normally got eight and they asked me get between nine and ten and he reported their functioning went up dramatically. So the practicing is done. You want to fine tune, some things and work over the back of the opening Cyprus.
And about, but one essential need to do is recover from all the hard work ve been doing over the last seven months. This is another rule that we hear a lot on the show, get more sleep and take care of yourself in other ways, too prize fighters do not fight the week before fight, but musicians of their pounding away. Don't get me started on brass fires as this worse, but just you did you body fresh and rested. You Frank is you need to get other, lacked a gas value? Bided that's been building up with this intense training and obsession that you doing so you wanted strike drink a lot of water, a whole lot of water and get you mine in the right place, not think about results. That's death bed thanking you can't control, as this can make yourself miserable and anxious. He can't play the addition to play the audition page that you oughta, give you had in a happy place.
It just says: getting our fine scandal finds gonna go fine over and over and over yet cat tat makes us yet. I know you're very serious, but this is too important to take to seriously yeah now. This is a gig. That's what you do you show up play music, that's don't make it bigger than life and times. The one thing that I find myself really attaching to when I'm playing in, like with an orchestra or something and I'm nervous before we're about to go to a concert, is just like how much I've liked loved music that I've rehearsed with them all week or something and its is can be really liberating to just lean into that, and just just play music yeah
Why the music there's your magic formula, the next rule is watch a lotta tv sitcoms, the really funny, once the last two weeks before an audition, its emotional roller coaster he goes through. Full range of emotion. This is it's an up and down moment to moment sing and it's easy to get into negative space than the anxiety kicks in then, the lack of being perfect that you still don't have everything down right and and it's kind of rise above it and that's why I believe it or not what I recommend people the last week before an audition is a spend every morning listening or watching comedy until they laugh.
Out loud time, absolutely serious, because moods gonna tank a lot. You gonna go in that less negative zone. Previously, most people do with amazing to me. God is that all this as just a passive wizard? This seems so counter intuitive to me. Right, like I feel the same way that make would feel which is like there's this addition coming up. If, if you want a winning you gotta Erna, you gotta like work yourself, the the person is going to perform. The best is the one who like works. The hardest right is willing to like make their fingers bleed and but but what you're saying his leg? No man, like you, ve, been doing all this work for years. Slick the person is gonna win is the one who like gets a good night's sleep and watch some netflix until they're laughing and goes in and just plays the thing.
That they love to play Bangor, making the right thing out there. It is here's the thing under pressure that things tend to speed up, and people tend to rush it and a start into the first notes, again, not being ready. So much advice on a day of the addition, starting with in the morning as you get up, and you start moving slowly talking slowly eating slowly, slow, shower, slow, rock. That's why you want to get there early, so you can check in and take another slow. I can slow things down and you carry this on stage with when you take your time. Here's another rule on the day of the performance I've early and take everything really slow guess, set up here. The first two bars the bar play: the bog. Ok, so we ve learned on steps in any we ve taught through how to get our head ready for the audition. The only thing left us
like to pick up the base and see what on says about is playing. Rank higher Jesus difficulty, I saw a nanosecond before the first note shouted what was going on your head. I was worrying if my bow was straight or not, so that's cava left brain doubt yet. So if you are hearing that you were on hearing the note now, let's put you base in a safe place, we can pick it up real, quick fishing,
get your heart rate up, don't overdo! It just jump acts of you on, but when you get when you write it up pick up the instrument get set drop. You shall detention here. The music no hesitation play music right that energy whip. How many should I do to feel your heart failure embrace the energy. Your friend
Yes, how is ash is a lot better way better. That's what we're talking about. It was no sought in there. You don't need a side who shows awesome, that's the way it should shields. Adrenaline is your friend, but of course, when my conditions, it's not gonna, be just one. Pc performs its undertaking to be just one audition, there's round after round of additions, and so I asked on how'd you get yourself ready for something like that
but when you know it's gonna be a marathon. Are there any tips, YAP yep watch Rambo, but it would be really in view of the fires. Mentality is gonna, be a knock down, drag our fight. You gotta hang until the end, then you take the next day off, but not until then you ve gotta, hang in and that takes care of soldiers mentality and I personally like Rambo what are we, the soldiers mentality like elective you're, telling me how to do that with what advice or you given mere MIKE saw tell you a story after I graduated from West Point, I went through Ranger School and Ranger schools, some of the toughest and a military, it's about the equivalent of seal training. So the first three weeks arranges schools for banning in Georgia was very hot August and you wake up at Tubby five thirty in the morning, and you run this incredible obstacle course not a fun one and by the last day or two five march,
I remember getting within half a mile from the barracks and seeing the barracks and thinking, oh, my god. If I can, I can just make it that last half a mile of survive and then you get there. They say you guys think you're tough Ba were tough. Then they have called you rifles overhead jump up the guy's, a range of tough yeah, we're rage Jeff. Now you not were rage tat. We all! We are what you want to go again: yeah, let's go again, Now you ve gotta be kidding and they start out at another five miles. Well,
within a hundred yards guys just drop in like flies, I mean it left and right, no downloads, that top you gone, and I still don't know how I made another five miles a day, but I found out this is always reserve in their more energy more there unless you're thinking goes the opposite way, and once you thinking goes negative, you done you out and in what I taught me, as is always more they're worth fighting for worth. Hanging onto and that's when I say soldiers mentality. I learned it the hard way, but you don't need to go to Ranger School cuz. You battle it out everyday in the practice room with putting the Bach on the stand and going for it and just take same mentality into the audition and that you're gonna dominate and hang in and that your Rambo
so so after it's all over after he doesn't have to have soldier mentality, everything is over and he's in recovery. Is there anything special? You should do in recovery, yes to sell it, very survived to write down all the good things, because by then you'll have process over and over this negative things that the notes must know that too really focus on the positive things right out. You know that good, a good start and mental Mendelssohn and the end of the back. What really an olive positive thanks to remember versus reinforcing and repeating the negatives in a reckon. A man lies and figure out what you need to do, but then focus on the right things and give you suffering ward for all the effort you put in nature to drop the energy down recover, takes him, that's sweet and get your attitude back and then get yourself ready for the excellent,
and this is the rule that may be easier to overlook, but is so important if you showed up- and you did your best celebrate- that no matter whether you won or lost. You need a lead I remember what you did right, because as long as you did better, this then you did last time you are a success, and that's how you get ready to perform and deal with the pressure. Next time. A quick update for micro left us this voice memo Charles, Martin, I just finished my lyric opera addition. I did everything that Don told me to do. I was super energized super focused and I felt like In addition, when very very well, but did not advance to the next round. So, did not win this addition, however, I definitely
a lot better from doing what don't ask me to do in, and I got much better in preparing this addition in general. So thank you much for your help by it turns out that later. Did get a job with a new world symphony in Miami which is fantastic. Thank you so much to make for sharing your story with us and to performance, coach, Darn green for all of his amazing advice, make sure to look for dance books and other programmes at its website, winning onstage doc. Did you ever from the need solving, send us the noted how to slay dot com and we might be able to help that's how to its later come. Also You found any of our advice, helpful. We want to hear from you about it. You can treat us at hashtag how to pod or call and leave us a voice mail at six, four, six, four, nine five, four zero,
zero. What we might even player voicemail on the show? Finally, You would love it if you would please subscribe for free and give us a five hour rating and a review and apple pod gas. That really helps people find the show, and that means we can help more people, and you know it's just goodness all around how to executive producer is direct. John Rachel Alan is our production assistant in marriage. Jacob is our engineer. Our theme, music, is by Hannah's Brown June. Thomas is the Senor managing producer Play POD, Cason, Gabriel Roth Slates editorial director for audio especial thanks to Usher Solygia, I'm Charles doing things for listening.
Transcript generated on 2020-05-26.