cover image Dialed In: Do Your Best When It Matters Most

Dialed In: Do Your Best When It Matters Most

Dana Sinclair. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-982181-87-1

Psychologist Sinclair debuts with a brass-tacks guide to performing well when it matters most. Whether presenting in a high-stakes meeting, taking an exam, or playing sports, readers should prioritize planning over perfection and process over results, according to Sinclair. Contending that performing is foremost “about getting beyond wanting it to focusing on doing it,” she dismantles common performance-killing myths (punishing self-criticism helps no one and “striving for [perfection] is a script for self-defeat”); encourages readers to pin down their performance style and identify personal negative triggers; and outlines ways to overcome them (including by “shifting when you drift”—or quickly snapping out of negative thoughts by utilizing breathing and imagery exercises). Anchored by examples from Sinclair’s work with athletes, professionals, and cancer patients, the guidance is empathetic and down-to-earth. She raises particularly salient points about the harms of relying on confidence alone (a “vague and intangible concept.... You might want it, but you can perform well without it”) and the value of acknowledging fear without being subsumed by it. It’s a valuable toolkit for readers looking to achieve their personal bests, regardless of the playing field. (Jan.)