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Performing Under Pressure

Jan 9, 2020 | 11m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • Practical strategies to help you cope with pressure situations immediately
  • Why it’s okay to pause for a few minutes before answering an unexpected question
  • How you can channel mindfulness without actually stopping all that you’re doing and trying to meditate


When the Heat is On

We’ve all been there. You’re in a situation where all eyes are on you, and you’re expected to perform. Your heart rate rises, your palms get sweaty, you feel breathless. When your body has taken over, you’re not in the right frame of mind to make the best decisions. How do you prevent yourself from getting to that point?

There are a few strategies that you can develop, and with practice you’ll get better at handling anything work or life throws at you.

You Can Never Be Too Prepared

The difference between being prepared and unprepared is like night and day. If you’ve not prepared, you will start panicking and not have the mechanisms to help you cope. On the other hand, if you’ve put in the hours to prepare for a pressure situation, you’ll be in a good place to break the situation down and focus on what is important.

In cricket (and in life), we tend to think about the past or the future, but really, when the ball is bowled, we should just react. We need to harness what we’ve learned, the information we have at hand, and know exactly what we want to achieve, and react accordingly.

The main strategy you can use is to build a solid “default” routine. In cricket, when I’m batting my first ball, my routine should be exactly the same as when I need to hit a four on the last ball. The pressure should not affect your routine. You’re just reacting to various situations in a standard way, regardless of how relaxed or pressurising the situation is.

So if you translate this to the workplace, you should be preparing for a team briefing and a major sponsorship pitch in exactly the same way. Your routine up until you start talking should be the same. Why is this important? It’s your way of telling your body that you’ve done this before and this isn’t a new or more difficult experience. From boardroom to a weekly check in, run your routine through your mind. Remind yourself of what you want to talk about, what you want to achieve, and the tools that are going to help you achieve it. This can be a routine that you can practice even just before going to bed!

In cricket, we try to make our training sessions a lot more challenging than the actual match. We put ourselves in uncomfortable and difficult situations. If you’re up for a public speaking gig, and you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of people you don’t know, start by speaking in front of a few people and then gradually building up to larger groups of people. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. The bottom line is that you need to seek out situations that challenge you, and put yourself clearly out of your comfort zone. That way, when you need to perform at your ultimate, you can safely fall back on your routine and say, “I’ve been there, and done that.”.

Let’s say you’re preparing to pitch to a sponsor, think about practicing with people who can give you constructive feedback. Set up a mock pitch session and ask your friends, family, or colleagues to ask you challenging questions with everyone watching you. It might not feel comfortable, but you’ll be better prepared for your presentation with your sponsors. Not only that, having a few rounds of preparation will build up your confidence so you’ll feel that you can move mountains by the time your big day comes along.

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