As a University of Texas football fan, I was happy to see an end to the team’s four game losing streak yesterday. In yesterday morning’s paper, I read a fascinating article about Eddie O’Connor, Ph.D, whose business is to overcome losing streaks and who talked about the psychology behind ’em. In a recent paper, according to the article, O’Connor lists “nine common reactions to losing streaks: focusing on losses, focusing on mistakes, blaming teammates, blaming one’s self, utterly giving up and so on. He suggests that none of those helps.” He says that losing kills motivation.
The Statesman reporter also talked to Art Markman, a UT psychology professor, who suggests that winners are focused on positive outcomes, and you have a problem when your focus changes to avoiding negative outcomes. When you’re trying not to fail, you tend to think “about skills that are better left un-thought about,” for instance, “A quarterback who’s worried about the position of his arm isn’t thinking about the pass rush or where the linebacker went.” You get into an “avoid” state rather than an “approach” state. “Approach states result in high-energy emotions such as elation and joy. Avoid states foster sadness and despondence.” One way around this is to focus on “process goals” associated with specific tasks. “Process goals ask a question: ‘What’s your job? Don’t worry about the score.'”
In reading all this, I was thinking about the state of the economy – as a Realtor, I have to be an economy-watcher, so I think about this every day. The U.S. economy has felt like a losing streak lately – some people are using terms like “collapsonomics.” However because of the increase in jobs and the continuing popularity of Austin and the Hill Country in general, our area leads a national trend toward recovery.
How do you move from a near-depression to a winning economy again? I still hear some people say that it’s impossible, that there are too many downward-spiraling variables. But isn’t that just a symptom of losing-streak thinking? We have to turn our heads around.
So I come back to the last paragraph, and apply it to the economy, starting with myself…
“Approach states result in high-energy emotions such as elation and joy. Avoid states foster sadness and despondence.” One way around this is to focus on “process goals” associated with specific tasks. “Process goals ask a question: ‘What’s your job? Don’t worry about the score.'”