Unfortunately, not only does this get in the way of an effective and satisfying working life, but it can also have a knock-on effect on your personal life. Perhaps the simplest way to reduce this feeling of pressure is to plan and prepare in advance. Pack your lunch the night before so that you're not rushing to put it together in the morning. Choose your outfit, so that you're not delayed by deciding what to wear. Make a list of the tasks you want to complete, so that when you get to your place of work, or to school, your day is already mapped out. Of course, there will be times when your planning is disrupted by unexpected events, and you will have to adapt, but taking these preliminary steps will give you a firm foundation of confidence that your day is set up to go well. The power of music to influence our mood is undeniable, and today we have the advantage of being able to carry around huge libraries of tracks in our pockets. Make a mood-boosting 'confidence playlist' with your own choice of tunes that make you feel fantastic. Then, whenever you're faced with a difficult day or a challenging situation, fire up those songs for some instant inspiration and motivation. When you spend extended periods of time with others, their moods and attitudes can affect yours. For example, a large amount of workplace stress is so-called 'second-hand' stress. If someone at work is feeling hassled, you can unconsciously absorb their feelings of negativity. To avoid this, for instance if a colleague is talking about work or personal problems, try to say something positive about the subject or offer them some advice. If they carry on, perhaps go to make a hot drink, or, if you cannot walk away, make sure you stay positive and try your best not to adopt your colleague's mindset. It takes faith in yourself to resist a colleague's negativity, and this can increase your confidence by showing you that you are capable of taking up such a challenge. If confidence issues are having a sustained negative effect on your dayto-day life and none of the advice in this book seems to be helping, it is worth talking to a medical professional. There may or may not be an undiagnosed reason for your difficulties, and a doctor might recommend some kind of therapy or medication. Remember, it's not a sign of weakness to seek help and expert advice; in fact, it takes strength to confront your issues in this way. Confidence is within your reach. Confidence doesn't come naturally to everyone, and needs to be developed over time.

If you struggle to feel calm and poised under pressure, or wish you had the self-assurance to shout about all your star qualities, then look no further. The researchers found five key dynamics that set successful teams apart. The first four were dependability, structure and clarity, meaning of work, and impact of work. However, the fifth dynamic was without doubt the most important and actually underpinned the other four. It was something called psychological safety. Rozovsky explains, Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they're more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they're rated as effective twice as often by executives. The term "psychological safety" was coined by Amy Edmondson, an organizational behavioral scientist at Harvard. In her TEDx talk, Edmondson defines psychological safety as "a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes." Speaking up sounds easy, but if you don't feel psychological safety you'll keep your concerns and ideas to yourself. Rozovsky continues, Turns out, we're all reluctant to engage in behaviors that could negatively influence how others perceive our competence, awareness, and positivity. Although this kind of self-protection is a natural strategy in the workplace, it is detrimental to effective teamwork. On the flip side, the safer team members feel with one another, the more likely they are to admit mistakes, to partner, and to take on new roles. Psychological safety is the antidote to the depression-inducing work environments Stansfeld and Candy found in their study. It's also the magic ingredient the teams at BCG found when they began regular meetings to address the challenge of giving employees predictable time off. Knowing that your voice matters and that you're not stuck in an uncaring, unchangeable machine has a positive impact on well-being. How does a team--or a company, for that matter--create psychological safety? Edmondson provides a three-step answer in her talk: Step 1: "Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem." Because the future is uncertain, emphasize that "we've got to have everyone's brains and voices in the game." Step 2: "Acknowledge your own fallibility." Managers need to let people know that nobody has all the answers--we're in this together. *Step 3: Finally, leaders must "model curiosity and ask lots of questions." Edmondson insists that organizations--particularly those operating in conditions of high uncertainty and interdependence among team members--need to also have high levels of motivation and psychological safety, a state she calls the "learning zone." It's in the learning zone that teams perform at their best and it's where they can air concerns without fear of being attacked or fired. It's where they can solve problems, like that of tech overuse and distraction, without being judged as unwilling to carry their share. It's where they can enjoy a company culture that frees them from the nagging internal triggers brought on when they feel a lack of control. Only when companies give employees a psychologically safe place to air concerns and solve problems together can they solve some of their biggest workplace challenges.

Creating an environment where employees can do their best without distraction puts the quality of the organization's culture to the test. In the next chapter, we'll learn from companies that pass with flying colors. You're at a basketball game watching your hometown team play for the championship. It's the last quarter and your team is down, but they're making a comeback. In fact, your favorite player, Michael J., has just made three baskets in a row. People in the crowd start screaming, "Mike's hot--give the ball to Mike!" Why? It's common knowledge that basketball players get on a roll--they get hot. They get into a zone, and seem like they can't miss. Everybody's seen it happen. In fact, a survey of basketball fans showed that 91 percent thought a player was more likely to make a basket if he just made the last two or three shots, than if he missed the last two or three. Eighty-four percent thought the ball should be passed to a player who just made a couple of shots in a row.7 The problem is, there's no such thing as a hot hand. Psychologists Tom Gilovich, Robert Vallone, and Amos Tversky analyzed the shooting statistics for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics during the 1980-1981 season, and found absolutely no evidence to support the hot-hand theory.8 Streak shooting implies that the probability of making a basket, after having just made two or three baskets, is greater than the probability of making a basket after two or three misses. When you analyze the statistics, this just doesn't happen. For example, consider Dr. J. (Julius Irving), who typically took the most shots for the 76ers. The probability that Dr. J. would make a basket after having just made two baskets in a row was 52 percent, while the probability of his making a basket after two misses was 51 percent. If he made three baskets in a row, he sunk his next shot 48 percent of the time, while if he missed three baskets, he scored on his next shot 52 percent of the time.

In short, the likelihood of him making a basket was around 50 percent, irrespective of what happened on his last few shots. Analyzing the free throws of the Boston Celtics revealed the same result. Larry Bird's chances of making a free throw were about the same (88 percent and 91 percent) whether he made the last free throw or not. The data on a number of other players revealed similar findings. When Gilovich and his colleagues examined all the players on the 76ers, they found that the probability of a hit was actually a little lower after a hit than after a miss (average of 51 percent versus 54 percent over nine players). In addition, the probability of a hit following a hot period (three or four hits in the last four shots) was 50 percent, while a hit after a cold period (none or one hit in four shots) was 57 percent. They also analyzed the number of runs that the players had. A run is a sequence of consecutive hits or misses. For example, if X stands for a hit, and O a miss, the sequence XOOOXXO contains four runs. Streak shooting suggests that a player's hits cluster together, and so there should be fewer runs than what you would get from a random process. Only one player (Daryl Dawkins) deviated from chance, and he had more runs than expected, contrary to the hot-hand hypothesis. In fact, the analyses of twenty-three players on three different teams (the 76ers, New York Knicks, and New Jersey Nets) revealed similar results, even for players typically considered to be streak shooters, like Andrew Toney. Gilovich and his colleagues then asked college players to shoot free throws and predict whether they would make the next basket given how they felt. According to the hot-hand theory, if they felt confident, like they were "in a zone," they should be able to sink more shots. However, there was no association between the players' predictions and their actual performance. In essence, the data indicate that there is no hot hand in basketball. Remember, there are tails to any distribution, so by chance alone we would expect a player to occasionally hit a number of baskets in a row. It's not a hot hand, it's just the vagaries of chance. And yet, when players on the 76ers team were interviewed, all of them thought it was important to pass the ball to someone who had just made a few shots in a row.9 So why do we believe in streak shooting when successes and failures are statistically independent of one another? We misperceive random sequences.

Consider, for example, the following problem:10 The purpose of meditation is personal transformation. The "you" that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same "you" that comes out the other side. Meditation changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, words, and deeds. Your arrogance evaporates, and your antagonism dries up. Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smoothes out. Thus meditation, properly performed, prepares you to meet the ups and downs of existence. It reduces your tension, fear, and worry. Restlessness recedes and passion moderates. Things begin to fall into place, and your life becomes a glide instead of a struggle. All of this happens through understanding. Meditation sharpens your concentration and your thinking power. Then, piece by piece, your own subconscious motives and mechanics become clear to you. Your intuition sharpens. The precision of your thought increases, and gradually you come to a direct knowledge of things as they really are, without prejudice and without illusion. So are these reasons enough to bother? Scarcely. These are just promises on paper. There is only one way you will ever know if meditation is worth the effort: learn to do it right, and do it. See for yourself.