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How British Open Champion Collin Morikawa Channels Nerves Into Positive Energy

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at July 19, 2021

Collin Morikawa made history on Sunday at the British Open Championship. The 24-year-old is the first golfer to win two different majors in his first attempts (he won the 2020 PGA Championship on his first try).

After the final round, a reporter in the press room asked Morikawa how he remained “calm, cool, and collected” in high-pressure situations. Morikawa’s answer provides a valuable lesson for anyone who gets nervous when the pressure is on. 

“I’m glad I look calm because the nerves are definitely up there,” Morikawa acknowledged. “But you channel these nerves into excitement and energy.” Nerves will “push you to be a better person” if you see them as a feeling of excitement and not as something to be feared, adds Morikawa. 

Almost everyone gets nervous performing in front of people—whether it’s striking a little white ball or giving a presentation. If someone’s watching, our tension goes up. If the stakes are high, so is our anxiety. 

Morikawa was able to keep a smile on his face during the final round because he didn’t worry about the outcome. “You can’t control what’s going to happen or what has happened. So focus on every shot and try to do your best,” he said. 

The same mental approach helps to alleviate nerves in public speaking.

When I work with executives and entrepreneurs, they get nervous when they think about what’s happened in the past (for instance, a failed presentation) or what’s going to happen in the future should they win the business or fail to win the business. 

Those “what-if” thoughts prevent them from enjoying the opportunity to talk about a subject they love. They simply can’t embrace the joy of the moment if they’re worried about the outcome. As a result, the smile wipes away from their face. They look stern, concerned, and tight. They’re certainly not relaxed and relishing the moment as Morikawa did during the British Open, even when he was trailing. 

Stop focusing on the “what-ifs” because they’re distracting you from performing your best in the moment. Eliminate thoughts like these:

What if I don’t get this investment for my startup? 

What if I’m not prepared for a question?

What if I fail to get my funding request? 

The only thing you should be focused on during a presentation is enjoying the opportunity to share your ideas. You can’t fix a slide. You can’t go back and rehearse more, and you can’t control the outcome. What you can control is enjoying the moment. And enjoyment will lead to better performance.  

Put a smile on your face and embrace the opportunity. That’s the mindset of a champion.

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