Closing the sale. Asking for a raise. Nailing the big presentation. Of the 2,000 hours you work every year, your success or failure is determined in the couple of dozen crucial hours when you need to bring your absolute best. Will you?

The last few minutes before a major challenge can be terrifying. Ever wished you knew how to make sure you ace the make-or-break test, audition, or interview?

We often feel the most powerless just before we’re expected to act powerful. As you’ll learn in this life-changing book, practice might make perfect, but perfection is useless if you can’t summon it when it counts. Pulling off a great speech or the pivotal at bat also requires the right kind of mental preparation.

In Psyched Up, journalist Daniel McGinn dives into the latest psychological research and interviews athletes, soldiers, entertainers, and others who, despite years of practice and enviable track records, will ultimately be judged on their ability to delivera solid performance when it’s their turn to shine. For instance, he reveals...

• How Jerry Seinfeld’s jacket and Stephen Colbert’s pen help them get laughs.

• What General Stanley McChrystal said to Special Forces before they entered the battlefield.

• Why the New England Patriots hired the DJ from the Red Sox to help them win.

Among other counterintuitive insights, McGinn reveals why trying to calm your backstage jitters can be worse for your performance than channeling it into excitement; how meaningless rituals can do more to prepare you in the final moments than last-minute rehearsal; and how a prescription from your doctor could help you unleash your best skills.

Whether you’re a sportsperson or a salesperson, an actor or an entrepreneur, one bad hour can throw away months of hard work. There’s so much conflicting popular advice that we often end up doing the wrong things. McGinn separates the facts from the old wives’ tales and shares new, research driven strategies for activating your talent, optimizing your emotions, and getting psyched up to take the spotlight.
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