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Performing Under Pressure

We all experience moments of pressure; where we must deliver the goods or suffer the consequences – it’s all on the line.

These days we seem to face more and more of these situations on a daily, weekly and monthly basis than ever before. Everything seems like it’s do or die.

The authors (Hendrie Weisinger & J.P. Pawliw-Fry) of the book Performing Under Pressure wrote this book for a very important reason – to give us the ability to find untapped skills and strategies to help us perform up to our capabilities in every situation we find ourselves in.

What Pressure Is and What It Does?
There are three basic truths about pressure.

First, pressure interferes with the things we value most in life – our relationships, careers, parenting effectiveness, and our decision making. Nothing escapes the wrath of pressure.

Second, the people who manage pressure better than others don’t actually perform better under pressure – they simply manage to let the pressure decrease their performance less than others.

And third, in order to do our best under pressure, we need to leverage the natural pressure management tools we already have at our disposal to counteract the negative effects we experience.

These natural tools are our thoughts, physiological responses, body movements, voice, and senses.

There are three common attributes to pressure situations that cause us anxiety and fear, and thus perform below our best:
• The outcome us important to us;
• The outcome is uncertain; and
• We feel responsible for, and are being judged on, the outcome.

Here are how those things work together. The more important the outcome is to you, the more uncertain the outcome is, the more responsible you feel for the results, the more intense the pressure and likelihood you’ll underperform.

What happens at the physiological level?
When we are in those pressure moments, there are three factors that determine our level of performance.

Our physical arousal (usually too high), our thoughts (usually not clear) and our behaviour (usually not appropriate to the situation).

Think about the last time you felt an incredible amount of pressure. Your heart rate was probably racing, your thinking became cloudy and unclear, and you simply couldn’t put the right actions together. Many people experience this type of reaction when they are public speaking.

Conversely, to perform well under pressure, we need to be able to regulate our physical arousal, think clearly, and execute the appropriate response for the situation.

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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