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Pressure Builds Resiliency

“All of us get knocked down, but it’s resiliency that matters. All of us do well when things are going well, but the thing that distinguishes athletes is the ability to do well in times of great stress, urgency, and pressure.”

 – Roger Staubach, Heisman Trophy Winner, Member Pro Football Hall of Fame

Great accomplishments and great moments are a result of adversity and the struggles competitors face. A true competitor relishes in the opportunity to face the adversity and perform in crucial situations. It is easy to perform when things are going well and there is little perceived pressure, however, little to no growth occurs in these situations.

The true competitor seeks out opportunities to feel the pressure, to be accustomed to the struggle, the stress of a situation and the urgency of the moment. As Roger Staubach points out, this is what distinguishes athletes; their ability to handle the pressure sets them apart. Perspective allows the competitor to understand the ability to handle and perform under stress and pressure is always developing and evolving. This ability, which is ultimately a skill, cannot be turned on with a switch.

Developing the ability to perform under pressure can be practiced in a variety of situations, not just in the athletic arena. If you want to be the player to get the big hit in the last inning, establish that mindset when giving a speech in class. If you want to be able to sink the game winning free throws, study and prepare for the test in the same way. If you want to be in the boardroom making the million-dollar sale, rehearse the presentation and closing in the bathroom mirror. Competitors find ways to prepare for pressure; large accomplishments are made of small steps. Seek out the small pressure-packed situations to develop the poise required in the pressure-cooker.

Question of the Day: 

What small pressure-filled situations can you seek out today to be come comfortable with pressure?

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Feeling Pressure?…You are in the RIGHT Place.

“I like pressure. If I am not on the edge of failure, I’m not being sufficiently challenged.”

– Jewel, singer

“The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of your abilities—that uncomfortable burn of “almost, almost”—is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenon that the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls “desirable difficulty.” Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain.”

– Daniel Coyle, in The Little Book of Talent

A true competitor desires to be pushed to the edge of their abilities.  At the edge of our abilities is where development occurs, where true improvement takes place, and where greatness is achieved.  The edge of our abilities is also where the largest amount of discomfort lies.  The Heart of the Competitor enjoys and seeks out this discomfort; they enjoy the pressure.  The Heart of the Competitor turns the pressure into pleasure.

The pressure that comes from teetering on the edge of failure is the proper challenge.  We can identify this because it has been researched and is known that this uncomfortable feeling that arises within us is our brain working to make new connections, to establish new programs.  While we are working physically to learn a new skill, our brain is also working physically to make new connections and establish new neural pathways.

The Heart of the Competitor believes in the following mantras, “Turn Pressure into Pleasure” and “Desire Difficulty.”  When using these two mantras, the competitor seeks out difficulties because true learning and growth occurs there.  While desiring the difficulties, the competitor enjoys the pressure that comes with performing.

Question of the Day:
Today, seek out a learning experience at the edge of your abilities.  During this experience, how did this help you turn pressure into pleasure?

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2 Ways to Prepare for Pressure

Our family spent the last week on a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.  We spent the week in Avalon, New Jersey, a beautiful little town on the Jersey Shore.  We have been to portions of the Jersey Shore before at various times during past summers.  This past week was NOT the peak of summer tourism, as a matter of fact, many Jersey schools had just finished their school year, so the summer buzz was starting, but overall it was quiet compared to previous visits we took during the months of July and August.

While the number of visitors like myself was lower, the intensity of the lifeguards on the beach was higher than I have ever seen.  In other words, they were preparing for the busy times that lie ahead.  On our second day there, right as the lifeguards came on the beach at 10 AM, there were many whistles being blown and a number of lifeguards running up and down the beach.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the concern for those they had to rescue at other locations, when in reality they were training themselves to work as a team and prepare to save a person life.  There was a lead lifeguard right in front of us that would blow his whistle at random times and the neighboring guards would jump out of their chairs, grab their buoy and run down the beach to the next station.  It was impressive to watch.  They were always on watch, expecting the unexpected.  Thus, when something out of the ordinary occurred, they hopped into motion without hesitation.

Then an amazing challenge occurred, right in front of us, a “rescue.”  The lifeguard whistles blew and they hopped into action swimming out to save a “person” that had gotten caught about 50 yards out from the shore line.  As the crowd gathered, the lifeguards swam out to the person in distress, and quickly brought them back to shore.  While the other lifeguards cleared an area, the practice dummy was brought to shore and given CPR.  These lifeguards were practicing experiencing pressure.

These lifeguards were building habits, so that at some point this summer, when they are called upon to save a life, they have prepared by expecting the unexpected and practicing under pressure.  The challenge to the Community of Competitors is to in our lives, expect the unexpected and practice experiencing pressure.  We learn these from great performers in athletic events to the daily jobs that many of us engage in every single day.

 

Following the completion of this challenge and practicing saving the life of the “practice swimmer,” the lifeguards debriefed on the beach.  This was just another example that we are all COMPETITORS in life.

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