Thriving Under Pressure

It is Sunday evening and I had intended on writing a blog today but it never happened. I felt a little guilty but decided to be ok with it and thought maybe for the rest of the summer I would take at least one day off on the weekends. Sunday was a big day if you watch golf or the Tour De France. In both events the older guy (Watson and Lance) looked ready to take charge but seemed vulnerable in the end.

The British Open was exciting. Us older guys were cheering on Tom Watson but he choked on a putt on the last hole that would have won the tournament. If you watched, you saw him actually tighten up and totally miss a putt that he could have easily made. To tighten-up like that is because he felt the pressure and couldn’t override it. When playing golf, I miss easy putts too if I am trying too hard and that is with just the pressure of my own thoughts and not with thousands of people watching there in Scotland at the course and millions on TV.

Lance Armstrong all but said this race is over as far as his chances to win are concerned. His teammate Alberto Contador seems to be stronger than everyone else in the mountains.

What makes you choke, tighten-up, feel pressure or mess with yourself with your thinking? How do you offset the tension or keep loose? Here are some suggestions you might find helpful the next time you are feel under pressure for a presentation, following through on something difficult, or when you have a bet riding on your round of golf. You can try the following:

• Step back, take a relaxed breath, and when ready step up to hit the ball or follow through on your task.
• Visualize the results you want to have, see it, taste it, smell it, hear it and feel it. The clearer you can imagine it the greater the chance for a positive outcome.
• Presentations are the most tense the first line or two. Memorize what you want to say in the beginning and throw in some humor to lighten you and the audience up.
• Shoulder rolls are very helpful when you feel yourself getting uptight; even a little stretching just before can loosen you up and toss in some mindful breathing.
• Before you go forward into action make sure you are clear about where you are heading. A well thought out plan will make you feel more confident.
• Fresh air and just to be outdoors can settle you down. A walk around the block or away from what you are doing, can do wonders.
• Don’t show up early and have to wait around for while, this just makes you pace and get anxious. Keep busy if you find time on your hands. Distraction can be helpful.
• Lighten up, don’t take things too seriously, and make it fun and enjoyable.
• Find out what works for you. My advice may not be helpful. Experiment to see what works best when you are under pressure.

I hope you week gets off to a positive start and that you have an opportunity to thrive under pressure.