What ever happened to intrinsic motivation?

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Many years ago, in the days of yore, a speechie struck out on an expedition to compete in his first tournament. The young speechie practiced and memorized and slept little to gain the knowledge necessary to compete. Yet, though he knew the rules he lacked the confidence, skill, and je ne sais quoi necessary to break. But this mattered little! He was a novice and the world of Forensics was so great it left him in awe. All he cared for was the joy of performing and the inner pleasure he gained from knowing he got better with every odyssey into a round.

What happened to us? There used to be a time when making rank was secondary and delivering our personal best was critical. One could argue that time was when we were naïve and new to competition; we thought little of breaking for breaking thought little of us. Despite how true that may or may not be, weren’t those early days the ones when you felt most alive and connected to the breathing undercurrent of the tournament? Wishing for a break would forever be a dream but it was not branded upon your flesh. No. Focusing on rank only came into being after that first experience of success; be it exciting, positive comments or breaking. Longing for finals becomes an addiction, an obsession. It’s like the idea is if you can break once why can’t it happen again? Have I gotten worse? Was that a fluke?

And so on.

This unhealthy obsession over placing instead of performance could be the reason why your rank suffers. Instead of giving into the pleasure of performance you become focused on a methodical, over-analyzed interpretation of your piece. I know. I’ve done it. When the pains for placing raged, I easily slipped into a performance that had every syllable planned. This happened my second year of competition after I received a slew of positive reviews for my first year in Prose. I was on the verge of breaking and I knew it. So what did I do? For one of my Prose pieces which I found harder to slip into (because of the serious, thoughtful nature), though I loved it, I over-thought my performances WHILE PERFORMING and thus lost the heart of the work. After I placed and the anticipation/anxiety was relieved, I remembered why I was competing in the first place: I loved the style of performance and the knowledge that I alone shape the story being told. In essence, I re-discovered my passion for Forensics and concluded my over-thinking DURING performing was sabotaging not only my rank but my whole raison d'être.

There used to be a time when people competed simply for the joy of seeing the reception of their piece on the faces of their audience. Re-capture that time! Odds are that is when you were having the most fun and learning the most about yourself and Forensics. Focusing all your energies on the idea of breaking places too high of stress and pressure on you; then your enjoyment/performance suffers.

Inversely, perhaps there are some competitive competitors who go to a tourney with the goal of placing and THAT helps their performance be their best? I suppose it's all about the frame of mind that works best per person.

Maybe all that really matters is that regardless of your goal for the tournament, whatever the outcome, you keep your cool and learn from what happened? Don't let "failure" bring you down.

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