Archives for posts with tag: Performance

‘That’s mental!’, as they sometimes say over here, meaning something is crazy or mad. But that’s not what I mean by mental, at least not in this post.

I played in a table tennis tournament a few Saturdays ago. I’ve been playing quite a bit lately, but it’s been all practice and no matches. Some practice matches, sure, but it’s not the same thing. I played quite well in the tournament, at least for someone in his supposedly declining years, but I lost all 3 of the matches that went to a 5th game ‘decider’.

What I told myself, and anyone else who would listen, was that I wasn’t match tight, I’m not playing enough matches. That might be true, but it masks the fact that the mental side of the game has been my weakness. The talent and the work-rate is there, but the mental part has been not as strong, and it’s resulted in a failure to close out more than my share of matches in my favour. In sport, at all levels, so much is down to the mental side – belief, confidence, trust in one’s abilities, positivity, good decision-making in the heat of battle, presence of mind to close out the victory.

It got me thinking about the working world, and whether we’re neglecting the mental side of our development as well. We work hard, we update our learning, we follow process, we’re open to best practice. Do we make decisions and execute to the same high level with the top two inches? I came to the conclusion that we probably don’t, and it’s probably an area we should work on more.

I write this blog post as very much a non-connoisseur of the operatic genre. In fact, I’m not really a connoisseur of any musical genre. I like pretty much all types, with a tendency towards the mainstream, non-fringe, anodyne even.

Like most people in their mid-twenties when the Italia ’90 World Cup was on, I had never heard Nessun Dorma. My Dad was fluent in Italian, lived there, and would occasionally regale us with the first couple of lines from Verdi’s La Donna √® Mobile. That was about the extent of my exposure to opera, except for a couple of very long evenings in the company of the English or Welsh National Opera for performances without a single song of note or recall.

The BBC chose Nessun Dorma as their theme tune for the event and catapulted Mr Pavarotti from serious fame to truly global renown. It may have helped the rise to prominence of the The Three Tenors, and countless other countries’ versions, but I’m not sure of the causality of that. Every time I come across his version of Puccini’s masterpiece on youtube or social media, I know that I will lose an ill-defined number of minutes watching various different recordings, all of them still spine-tinglingly good.

Other opera stars have sung this top 5 all-time favourite song of mine, but even to my untutored ear they don’t come close to the richness and depth of Signor Pav. You feel yourself lift off the chair as he moves to the massive tidal wave crescendo of Vincer√≤! So much charisma, so much presence, so memorable, even down to the obligatory white towel.

Don’t take my word for it, here’s one of the better recordings of the great man at work. I feel sure it will lift your spirits, at least for a while.