Do you feel that you are constantly walking a pressure tightrope? One false move and you will tumble into stress?
We all experience pressure both at work or home.
Pressure provides the stimulation we need to take action, perform at our best and achieve our goals.
A certain level of pressure is motivating, energizing and rewarding. However, when we perceive we can no longer handle the pressure, when it becomes excessive, we experience distress. Distress can easily knock us off the tightrope, derailing our performance and our life in general.
The authors of Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most, provide a very useful definition of what a pressure situation is - it's one in which we perceive that:
- The outcome of the situation is important to us - there is something significant at stake if we don’t deliver.
- The outcome of the situation is uncertain
- We are responsible for, and believe we will be judged, on the outcome e.g. we don't want to disappoint others, embarrass ourselves, or look silly.
By way of example, I have a pressure situation on Sunday. Double Down, the Improvisation for Theatre group I'm a member of, performs for the first time in front of a paying audience (Tickets available here). We've been training for this moment for some months now. For me, this event meets the definition of a pressure situation because:
- Putting on a good show for the audience is important to me. It meets my need for achievement.
- The outcome is uncertain. This is improvisation. There are no scripts. Everything is created in the moment. That's risky. Time will tell whether we leave the audience stony faced or rolling in the aisles ....
- I'm responsible for my contribution to the show. The audience will judge us. The director will give us feedback. My mind will no doubt want to find fault with my performance.
Avoiding the 'Tipping Point' - preventing pressure turning into distress
So in order to perform at my best on Sunday I need to keep with the optimum performance zone and avoid passing the 'Tipping Point'.
The Performance/Pressure graph below illustrates that there's an optimum pressure zone in which we feel challenged and are capable of performing at our best. At the point at which we perceive we no longer have the resources to meet the demands we're facing, we pass the Tipping Point. Now the pressure is excessive and our stress level begins to rise. Metaphorically - we have fallen off the tightrope.
What's the secret to staying within the Optimum Performance Zone and avoiding distress?
The secret to staying within the optimum zone, performing at your best under pressure and avoiding chronic stress in your life, is to learn and practice the 6 As of stress management:
|The 6 As of Effective Stress Management|
|Attain an understanding (How do I create pressure, anxiety, stress?)|
|Awareness [Am I stressing?]|
|Avoid [The stressor(s)]|
|Alter [The stressor(s)]|
|Adapt [Ourselves - thinking, feelings, behaviours]|
|Accept [What we can’t control]|
Upcoming workshop - Perform Under Pressure Without Stressing
I'm running a one day workshop, Perform Under Pressure Without Stressing, on Saturday September 16th, for people who want to learn how to perform better under pressure and, by doing so, reduce the distress in their lives. Less stress leads to greater physical and emotional well-being.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for you to learn the 6 As of effective stress management and practice some effective techniques to handle pressure and stress in the moment and avoid chronic stress. Tickets for the workshop are limited and are available here. Tickets are only $149 and participants get a bonus too.
I help people to develop personal mastery so they can achieve the success, health and happiness they desire, In particular I help people to reduce distress and anxiety and avoid chronic stress. If you'd like to explore how I can help you become more successful, healthier, and happier let's have a chat. Contact me now on 021 056 8389 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I coach face to face and via the internet.
Until next week,
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 is in helping people perform under pressure 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).
Contact Tony today to discuss how he can help you, or if you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch with him.