As well as taking in information effectively and the thinking skills associated with processing it, the next stage is concerned with acting on that information in some way. Our brains can be thought of as working a little like computers: computers receive information from various sources such as keyboards, flash drives, and so on; they then process that information internally; finally they output new information, whether to a screen, printer or other device. Each stage is vital and one cannot happen without the other. This is the same with our brains.
This stage, then, involves some kind of interaction with the outside world. However, the fact that we are now concerned with action does not mean that psychological factors are not paramount. Our brains are the primary instigators of physical action. They decide whether or not we act, how we act and physically control our muscular actions. In other words, all we do originates in the brain.
Therefore, the psychology of action and performance is a vital component in developing the mental skills necessary to perform effectively in the world. For example, suppose that you have spent a great deal of time preparing for an important presentation. You have made the effort to read and memorise all of the salient facts; you have been diligent enough to ensure that all of your arguments are sound and based upon good evidence and you have come up with some new ideas and suggestions for the future. All of this will count for nothing if you suffer from stage fright and go to pieces during your speech. The factors that might cause that to happen are psychological factors, and they are amenable to being taken under our control. The psychological techniques that allow us to do this can be used in a wide variety of situations to ensure that we perform not only effectively, but optimally.
The psychological determinants of how we act, then, can be used to ensure the highest levels of performance and effectiveness across the full range of human activities. We see this now in professional sport, where both individuals and teams focus as much on psychological performance as they do on physical performance. We have divided our courses in this area into four headings (goals and motivation, managing states of mind, effective communication and emulating high level performance).
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