Performing Under Pressure
We all face pressure moments in both our personal and professional lives. It is the ability to deal with pressure that ultimately determines the success of the individual. I recently read the book Performing Under Pressure (The Science of doing your best when it matters most) by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P.Pawliw-Fry and it was a thoroughly interesting read. Here I want to share some of the strategies mentioned which I found to be practical and easy to implement with my take on each.
Befriend the moment: It is how you view the pressure moment that ultimately matters. If you view it as a challenge you are bound to perform better. So view every moment as a challenge and prepare yourself accordingly.
Multiple opportunities: The main premise is you should never consider any situation as do or die. Let’s say you have a job interview make sure you don’t view it as final chance. There will always be other opportunities.
Downsize the Importance: This is a follow-up to the earlier strategy. Don’t give anything too much importance because if you do then when something wrong happens it takes much longer for you to bounce back. A nice idea provided by the authors is to be mindful of what is important in your life.
Focus on your mission: Basically if you are clear on what you are trying to achieve for example nailing the interview it prevents distracting thoughts generated by external distractions. It has also been well established that when you have a personal mission statement you are more happy and relaxed. So go ahead and define your personal mission statement.
Anticipate, Anticipate, Anticipate: This principle basically asks you to be prepared for the worst possible outcome. If you do then you feel relaxed and actually perform better.
Recognize that you are worthy: Basically affirm your self-worth. My own strategy here is to maintain a log of every accomplishment I have ever had and look at it daily. Also be aware of your strengths and focus on them always.
Recall you at your best: This strategy has been known for decades and has been used by sports stars from time immemorial. Basically before any important event make sure you flashback to your previous success. I would suggest keep a track of all your victories till date and keep reviewing them daily
Here and Now: Stay in the moment is one of the best pressure handling strategies. Let go of the past and ignore the future as otherwise we will not be able to respond to the now.
Carry a Pressure tune: Always keep in hand any great songs that gets you relaxed or into a positive frame of mind. We have seen sports stars always listen to music before a major game. Listening to music seems to distract us just enough to get the job done. I remember Chris Gayle the cricketer who always listens to music before he starts playing.
Write Pressure off: When you write down your stressful situations it makes your situation far better. You feel a lot calmer when you write down your problem.
Speed Kills: Basically slow down your thinking. When we are under pressure our mind is racing and the key is to recognize that and slow down deliberately.
All the strategies above can help get our bearings right when we inevitably face pressure points in our life. The book has much more strategies and many interesting examples as well.