For many of us — athletes and regular employees as well — a pressure moment can undermine our performance because we focus on factors we can’t control. When you focus on “uncontrollables,” you intensify the pressure; it boosts your anxiety to the point of disturbing your physiology, creating distracting thoughts that undermine your confidence.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
To execute this pressure solution effectively, you have to be able to know (a) what you can control, (b) what you cannot control, and (c) when your focus shifts to things you can’t control, so you can snap it back. Practice the following procedure to bring a focused mind-set to bear during high-pressure moments:
- Sitting in a comfortable chair, practice this three-minute procedure once a day for the next two weeks.
- Identify an upcoming high-pressure scenario, or one that you frequently encounter.
- List the factors involved that you cannot control.
- List the factors involved that you can control.
- Visualize the high-pressure moment; think about the things you can control, and imagine those going well.
- Now think about the things you can’t control. Visualize your performance going astray.
- Bring your mind back into focus on what you can control, and visualize yourself getting back on track.
Tune in to the obvious: your responses to the things you can control — your thoughts, physical arousal, and actions. These are the factors that determine how you perform.
Consistently using this pressure solution will force you to focus on how you can manage your responses and behavior to leverage more effectively the factors you can influence in a high-pressure situation. It will give you grace under pressure.
This is an excerpt from Performing Under Pressure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JP Pawliw-Fry is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Performing Under Pressure. He is keynote speaker, and the founder of IHHP, a global research and learning company that specializes in helping organizations and leaders leverage the science of emotional intelligence and performing under pressure. The research and strategies presented in the book, keynotes and in HHP’s training programs have been leveraged by numerous Fortune 100 companies, including long-term relationships with Johnson and Johnson, PWC, Goldman Sachs, HSBC as well as Olympic medal winning athletes. (Co-author: Hendrie Weisinger.)
Co-authored by our own J.P. Pawliw-Fry, Performing Under Pressure will introduce you to the concept of pressure management, offering the latest science on how your brain responds under pressure, and many empirically tested strategies to help you overcome the sabotaging effects of pressure. For this book, we undertook a multiyear study of over twelve thousand people to answer the question: what is it about the top 10 percent of these individuals that helps them handle pressure more effectively and be successful? The book has been featured in featured in Forbes, INC., The Financial Times, Training Magazine and many more, and is a NYT and Amazon bestseller. Order your copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible or Apple ibooks.