How to Perform Under Pressure
You know that feeling. The stakes are high. Everyone is depending upon you. The wait is finally over and now you have the chance to show what you can do. It might be a big presentation, that huge client meeting, or the big negotiation that will make or break the year. It's all come down to this and you'll either be the hero or the goat.
OH! THE PRESSURE!
Can you handle it? The American performances in the Winter Olympics have shown that even top performers can crack under extreme pressure. They train for years, prepare for months and yet somehow their emotion gets the best of them.
Every Saturday afternoon I produce a live radio show. There isn't much room for error. We launched in January and the ears of the world have been upon us. There is pressure to be successful coming from everywhere. Not only do we have to make sure we don't have any dead air, we have to be entertaining and interesting with little feedback. The network, the cast, the crew, the salespeople and others are all hoping we will succeed and all of that pressure comes to a pinpoint on the host and myself at 1PM each week as we launch.
My answer to handling the pressure is simple: Enjoy it.
Rather than freaking out from the stress, I choose to ride the adrenaline high that goes with having high stakes. I smile and celebrate the moment. There is plenty of time to relax after the show is done. Pressure and stress is raw energy that you can use to your advantage. Own it, revel in it, channel it, focus it, and use it to power through any challenge.
Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.
Take a Breath or Two
Olympic medals are not won during three minutes in front of the judges, but in thousands of hours of practice beforehand. Being as thoroughly prepared as I can be helps neutralize the pressure before it even hits. Aside from good preparation, Meditation is my best friend in pressure situations. I've been known to do it in the passenger seat of the car on my way to give a difficult presentation. Five minutes, or less, of slow, controlled breathing, thinking "just" on the inhale and "this," on the exhale. (Any mantra can work, that's just my favorite.) That calms and focuses me and helps me bring my breath back under control when pressure mounts. Minda Zetlin--Start Me Up
Want to read more from Minda? Click here.
Quiet Your Mind
My friend Peter Isler is a two-time America's Cup winning sailor who has during the long course of his career sailed in some of the most extreme environments imaginable. The pressure on the entire crew to perform is intense and can be unrelenting. Peter's secret for dealing with the pressure that is part and parcel with any high-stakes environment is to periodically clear his mind of all the distractions, and to relax and refocus his mind on a particularly pleasant memory, such as a favorite concert or time spent with family. By quieting his mind, Peter has found that he can travel to a zone where he is fully focused on the task at hand, the pressure is gone, and his A game will naturally emerge. Peter Economy--The Management Guy
Want to read more from Peter? Click here.
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