“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” ~ William Shakespeare
Shakespeare was correct – we’re all performers and we play many roles each and every day. Each of those roles places demands on us and we strive to satisfy those ever increasing demands to the best of our ability but often the pressure becomes excessive and it all becomes too overwhelming.…..
Imagine this scenario
It's 9:50 a.m. as you open the door and step into the boardroom. After several years with your organisation you are about to give a presentation on the status of the key project that you have been managing. It’s your first opportunity to impress the Board and CEO, and you are extremely motivated to make a favourable impression. You believe your future with the organisation, and also your career, is dependent on how well you perform in the next twenty minutes. You know it's vital your presentation gets off to a good start and as the moment approaches you can feel the anxiety and tension building in your body.
This is a pressure moment but is OK, you’ve prepared for it and you believe you are as ready as you’ll ever be.
How is it going to turn out? Are you going to perform at your best or are you going to choke?
Let’s move forward through time....
Your five minutes in, you’re in flow, it's going well and then - the CEO asks you a simple question. You know the answer but …. your mind goes completely blank; you're suddenly at a loss for words, your body starts to tremble, you feel nauseous.
The CEO’s question was one demand too many for your already stretched mental resources to cope with.
That one, simple, question pushed you beyond your Tipping Point and out of your Optimal Performance Zone. In an instant your perception of the presentation changed from being a challenge to a threat. The perceived threat triggered your fight or flight response and, in less than a second of hearing the CEO’s question, you experienced distress.
Distress degrades and limits our ability to perform at, or close to, our best. And because you didn’t have the knowledge and skills to recover from this acute stress reaction you ‘choked.’ You stumbled your way through the rest of the presentation as quickly as possible. You struggled to answer the questions put to you by the executives at the end of the presentation.
A performance that started so well, ended in disaster for you.
Managing the multiple demands we face whilst avoiding stress is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face today
Everyday life seems to accelerate, with more and more demands being placed on us to increase our efficiency, be accountable for our results, meet unrealistic deadlines, achieve ever-challenging goals and surge towards ever-improving standards of performance and service… whilst at the same time staying available for our families, having an active social life, being caring involved parents and remaining fit and healthy. For many people the pressure to meet these multiple, and often conflicting demands, can simply become overwhelming.
And it’s not just adults that are experiencing excessive pressure, our young people are under more pressure than ever… exams, social media, body image, bullying, parental expectations…. and sadly youth suicide rates are shockingly high.
Managing the multiple demands we face whilst avoiding stress is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face today, no matter who we are or what occupation we have, or what position we may hold.
The research tells us managing pressure is something most people don’t do well.
When conducting research on over 12,000 individuals from around the world to research their New York Times best-selling book, Performing Under Pressure, the authors, JP Pawliw-Fry, and Hendrie Weisinger, were surprised to learn that most people take a haphazard approach to managing pressure, whereas the top 10% performers have a plan to utilize scientifically-based strategies when under pressure.
It's important to remember that pressure isn’t bad. It gets us out of bed in the morning and provides the motivation we need to meet the challenges and goals we strive for. It’s pressure that drives athletes to Olympic greatness, business people to produce record value in their companies and artists to the stellar heights of their craft.
But too much pressure - excessive pressure - is bad. It's counterproductive and degrades our performance. It triggers stress and, if we suffer under excessive pressure for too long, it can result in chronic stress. And we all know how bad chronic stress is for our long term health and well-being.
So what’s the solution?
In order to meet the ever increasing demands we face and avoid the adverse consequences of excessive pressure (such as anxiety, stress, and burnout), we need to develop and put into operation a set of skills - the skills to manage pressure and reduce stress. Once we possess these skills we will be equipped to face pressure moments with more confidence and belief, and to achieve greater success whether that be in our personal or professional lives. We can be more successful, healthier and happier.
If you would like to explore how I and my mind coaching approach can help you develop the skills you need to perform under pressure and manage stress, call me on 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more posts like this visit my website www.tycoaching.nz.
REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise lies in helping people to 'change their minds' so they overcome limiting beliefs and unhelpful habits and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).