How do some people have the ability to stay calm and deliver results in stressful situations? Why do some people “freeze” under pressure? The other day when I was driving to work I heard an interview with hall of fame baseball manager Tony LaRussa. He was asked whether or not some baseball players are born with the ability to perform under pressure.
“Absolutely not. Performing under pressure is a skill that can be learned by anybody.”
The interviewer was a little surprised at the answer and asked him what he meant. LaRussa went on to explain that his organization used a 3-step method to actually teach players how to achieve great results in pressure situations. The steps are: Preparation, Repetition, and Process.
#1 – Preparation. From time to time I have been asked to give a speech and for whatever reason I didn’t have the time to prepare the way I’d like to. Those are the most stressful speeches! One of my favorite verses of scripture says, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” I believe that to be very true. Most of our fear about a decision or situation comes from our mind imagining all the ways we could fail. Most of those would never come to pass, but we still fear the unknown. If we take the time to study and learn as much about a situation as possible, a lot of the fears will start to disappear. Remember, FEAR can be an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. When you have a difficult situation coming up; a meeting, a speech, a major life-decision, etc., study and prepare as much as you can before hand and you will feel much more confident when it comes time to perform. Remember, “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance .”
#2 – Repetition. One of the great myths about “overnight success” is that it happens overnight. Every successful man or woman in the world had already put in countless hours building their product or skill before they got their big break. They had failed time and time again before the right situation came along and they became “instantly” successful. The more we repeat an action, the more it becomes engrained in our brain. If I want to deliver the perfect speech, I need to practice it many times in the mirror or in front of someone beforehand. That way when I’m on stage with the lights in my eyes and the crowd stretched out in front of me, I can deliver the speech effectively. My brain can go into a partial “autopilot” mode because it remembers how I practiced the speech repeatedly in the mirror.
#3 – Process. The greatest and most successful companies in the world have spent years developing the right process for obtaining results. I always think of Amazon.com and their wonderful customer service. That level of customer service doesn’t just come from hiring really nice people, it is a system that is taught, practiced, and repeated until it becomes natural. I believe that the most successful individuals you know have come up with their own process for personal development. They look for ways to learn and grow and then incorporate them into their daily routine. They repeat these new skills over and over until it becomes a part of who they are. That way, when the time comes to deliver in a tough situation, they don’t have to pretend to be someone they are not. They can just be themselves, the person they have created who has developed a habit of coming though big when everything is on the line.
The ability to deliver great results in the face of difficult situations is an amazing talent. But it is not always something that a person is born with. It can be developed over time by anyone who wants to put forth the effort. It may come easier for some but it can be learned by all. Whether your tough situation is making a game-winning shot, doing well in a piano recital, or talking with your child about drugs, you can be successful. By preparing yourself thoroughly, repeating what you will say or do before the actual moment arrives, and by developing a process to handle future situations, you too can be one of those people who always seems to know how to handle the pressure of a big decision or situation. If you follow these steps you can have faith in your ability to perform.
Preparation. Repetition. Process
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