What Rock Climbing Can Teach You About Work Performance

Over the years, rock climbing has taught numerous lessons that can be applied elsewhere in life: How to push your limits, overcome fear and go well beyond your comfort zone; how to persevere and push through even the toughest obstacle (crux); how to lead a group and manage risk; how having a strategy is always beneficial and to not be afraid

Just like in climbing, anxiety and stress can pump you out and force you to fade out in the boardroom or during your presentation.

Don’t let go

Have a plan

Know when to rest

Don’t’ be Afraid

Learn This: The Over-Gripping Myth

Improve endurance by learning the science of stress

As you move ever higher above your last piece and further outside your comfort zone, you grip the rock for dear life, even though you know the route is well within your ability. Yet here you are, only halfway up and too pumped to continue—everything feels way harder than it should. Most climbers have experienced this unfortunate situation: When you get scared, you hold on too tight and waste precious energy. The perceived solution: Focus on relaxing your hands to stop over-gripping the rock, thus lasting longer. While this does seem to make logical sense, over-gripping is actually not a significant factor in this perceived fatigue. Studies in applied physiology, neuroscience, and sports medicine point to stress itself as the culprit for accelerated fatigue. Anxiety can trigger the release of a certain hormone that can make you feel more pumped and tired than you actually are. Here we’ve provided some tips and tricks to conquer your fears and prevent the dreaded pump.

Physiology of Anxiety

When we attribute poor performance to over-gripping, the situation is usually the same: We’re uncomfortable and experiencing a stress response. When we get stressed, whether out of fear, competition, anxiety, or any other worry-inducing factor, we experience a few common physiological changes. Our heart rate increases along with breathing. We switch energy systems from the slow-burning aerobic system, which runs primarily off stored fat, to the faster anaerobic system, which runs primarily off carbohydrates. Our core body temperature starts to rise, and we start to sweat more (another con in climbing). All these changes are mediated through one primary hormone: epinephrine (also called adrenaline), which is necessary when intensity suddenly increases, like powering through a crux.

If the only type of stress we experienced was the stress of exertion on the wall, and the only time we experienced it was during strenuous moves, then epinephrine would only ever be positive. The problem is that fear and anxiety cause stress before we even leave the ground, and therefore cause changes that are less positive/adaptive and more damaging to our performance. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology in 2000 corroborates this: Novice climbers had significantly higher heart rates not only during a climb, but before it even began. The most likely reason for this is anxiety. An increase in mental stress causes an increase in epinephrine release, which then increases heart rate. The novice climbers began the climb with a body already in stress mode—the same physiological state more advanced climbers might only experience during a crux. This means that instead of moving smoothly through the easy sections and reserving stamina for the tough ones, precious energy gets wasted due to an unnecessary increase in epinephrine, caused solely by anxiety.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.climbing.com/skill/learn-this-the-over-gripping-myth/

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Photo credit: Black Diamond Catalog (2012)

Developing Graphics for Litigation? Ask Yourself This Question….

I was recently working on a case with a long time client, when this question popped into my head: Why does this matter?

We were assembling case themes, and subsequent graphics, for his opening presentation and struggling to condense his 55-slide presentation to conform to a 45 minute time limit.  This client is a well-respected orator, so I had no worries that he would be able to persuade the audience with his dialogue, but I was genuinely concerned that he would overwhelm them with his dense visual presentation. As I culled through the slides, trying to find materials that I could cut, I kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Why does this matter?

Knowing that we had to cut this presentation in order to not overwhelm the jury, as well as get our point across, our goal was to strategically eliminate slides that didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of this imperative question.  We have to remember, that our opening presentation isn’t the time to put on our entire case, but rather provide a road map of why were are here, where we are going and how we are going to get there.  These three questions can easily be answered in less than an hour, through engaging your audience with a mix of an oratory and carefully selected visuals.

If the answer to this question is glaringly evident, particularly with your opening presentation, then most likely need to cut whatever it is you’re looking and save it for later, or not at all.  Remember: our goal in opening is to simply lay the foundation of our story in an abbreviated time frame.

It’s no coincidence that as I’m writing this article, a client (partner at a large NYC law firm) emailed regarding a current matter we are working on.  He had reviewed the presentation, created by two associates, and commented “we need to cut this down; the jury will be asleep in under 20 minutes.”  He knew what his associates should have been asking from the start, and if they did, could have saved valuable time, and money, as trial quickly approached.

 

Why does this graphic matter?  Because it combines three case themes, represents critical data and has an immediately recognized takeaway.

So, the next time you are creating your visual presentation for trial, arbitration, meditation or a hearing, don’t forget to ask: Why does this matter?

If you need assistance with this imperative question, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or at DMykel@VisuaLexLLC.com

 

TED Talks – Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

Memory is a remarkable and fragile phenomenon. Or so says Elizabeth Loftus, a researcher and psychologist whose TED talk is the basis for this blog post.

Memory is an important component of our lives as actors and performers and certainly an important part of the lives of lawyers and their witnesses. Attorneys rely on their clients and their witnesses for memories of events, contracts, their actions and the actions of all the folks who are a part of the trial story. For many years, the research has shown that eyewitness testimony can be remarkably UNRELIABLE. Elizabeth Loftus in this enlightening talk expands on this through her own research.

Read more here:

http://legalstage.com/2013/10/03/ted-talks-elizabeth-loftus-the-fiction-of-memory/

A Trial Consutlant’s Thoughts on Presenting Scientific Concepts

by Chris Dominic

As humans, we have the problem of forgetting what it was like to not know something once we know it. Our overconfidence in our ability to communicate information of this sort has been documented in experiment after experiment. Think about back to before you knew what a hasty generalization was. You probably committed this fallacy often and could not have noticed when others did the same. Try and imagine back before you understood the concept of probability. Did the concept of normal distribution seem like magic, a cult belief, or just like gobbledegook?

So what does this mean for the advocate who has to persuade using scientific evidence as a part of their job?

Read more here:

http://scienceinthecourtroom.com/index.php/guest-commentary/51-christopher-dominic-a-trial-consultants-thoughts

Beware of the Anti-Theme in Your Case

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We’ve written frequently on themes: those little nuggets of language and meaning that distill a case to its persuasive essence. As consultants, we create themes even more frequently, trying to find the right message to leverage a case’s greatest strengths while minimizing or reframing its most important weaknesses. By definition, a theme is a simple message that helps an audience see your case in its most favorable terms. But based on some recent research, there is also a mirror image of that: an ‘anti-theme’ in the form of the condensed message that would turn off your audience and turn them away from your case. Considering these anti-themes when working on the contours of your message can help you know what to avoid and what to preempt in your trial strategy.

The study (Gromet, Kunreuther & Larrick, 2013) focuses on consumer choices…

Read more here: http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/05/beware-the-anti-theme.html

The Perils of Arrogance in Preparation

By:

Trial attorneys, by nature, have (or at least display) a great deal of confidence.  It’s an essential component of the job. Success in the courtroom demands confidence.  And this confidence is well-earned. After all, you must be doing something right to be where you’re at in your career. But don’t let that confidence create unnecessary barriers. A law degree is not a certification in effective communication.  Thinking through an idea is a fundamentally different task than communicating that idea. Attorneys supremely capable of the former still struggle with the latter, perhaps because communication is so fundamental to our existence that it’s easy to assume we are naturally skilled at it.  That would be false. Perhaps we tend to forget that, while our own ideas are immediately and clearly accessible to us in our minds, they need to be packaged as best as we can in words and images for others to  understand. The challenge is akin to trying to share with a friend the experience of viewing a Picasso by merely describing it to him or her. Even the best words fall short.  Here’s three areas where effective communication often departs from effective strategy at trial:

Read more here:

http://tsongas.com/blog-posts/my-38-minute-5k-and-the-perils-of-arrogance-in-preparation-buy-now-and-get-a-free-zimmerman-epilogue-and-keychain/

Opinions may vary depending on how you ask that question

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
posted by Douglas Keene

We spend a lot of time asking potential jurors questions and attempting to sort out just what their responses could mean about attitudes and values and beliefs as they relate to our specific case. So it was wonderful to see the new Pew Research Center article on how asking the same question results in different answers depending on how you have worded the question. As it happened, four different major organizations looked at the polarizing issue of the Department of Justice’s subpoenas of reporters’ phone records. CNN/ORC, Washington Post/ABC News, Pew Research, and FOX News all polled the public on the DOJ subpoenas. But, as you might expect, each organization asked the questions a bit differently and, as you might predict, each got a slightly different result. After the differing responses to the differently worded questions on the same issue were published, Pew Research wrote about the reasons ‘why’ each of the four major organizations had gotten the results they had.

unanswered questions - brainstorming concept