Many people balk in the face of pressure. It's stressful, scary even, when stakes are high and deadlines are tight. If you don't have a strategy to deal with it, you can sink fast. Pressure, while a reality of business and life, can also be your ally. You can embrace pressure and turn it to your advantage.
YPO member Gregg Hill loves pressure. In fact he calls it his "secret weapon" - and he's experienced plenty of it. At only 9 years old, Hill left his home and family to live full time at Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy. He attended the academy with tennis champions like Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, and Monica Seles, and was doubles partners with Tommy Haas. That's enough pressure for a lifetime, but Hill wasn't done. When injuries forced him out of the sport he loved, he was determined not to let that be the end of his successes. Even though he had to restart from nothing, he approached business with the same fervor he had tennis. He became an entrepreneur, developing real estate projects with Hill Gray Seven, founding H&S Capital Group, and becoming involved in Frustum, a generative design software.
In tennis and in business, Hill learned to take pressure and transform it into many opportunities for success. Here are Hill's tips on making pressure work for you:
1. Eliminate Distractions
The best athletes and the most successful businesspeople are laser-focused. "The grind doesn't stop because it's the weekend," Hill proclaims. "It's important to train your brain like athletes train their muscles. You should always be thinking, working, and training throughout your day." You may lose some of your free time or have to give up some hobbies, but it will help keep your head clear, and it will send the right message to those around you.
2. Remember to Stretch
As in sports, flexibility in business is key. "Don't be fixed!" Hill warns. "You should constantly raise the bar, and keep those around you on their toes." And this requires you to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Hard work and preparation can help you adapt when challenges arise.
3. Confront the Challenge Head On
"Companies fail because too many small bad things add up over time," Hill says. You can help avoid this by confronting problems immediately and directly. "Meetings should have tense moments," he says. "Do not be afraid to ask the important questions and apply pressure. Every nonsense meeting is a dangerous one!" Cut through the noise and identify the real issues.
4. Read the Players
Hill pays close attention to the behavior of those around him. "Watch body language and read people's action," he advises. "Pressure exposes the fact that people can't be changed." So if you watch how someone typically responds to pressure, you can learn to anticipate their next move. Being able to predict what will happen will also help keep you calm, he explains. When you're highly aware of those around you, you can take command of the situation.
5. Visualize the Win
When you're in a tight spot, Hill says you should "always visualize the win, or at least the optimal end result. You have to build in your conscious mind and in your stomach the 'I got this!' attitude." Have confidence in your abilities. Your hard work will pay off when the opportunity arises!
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.