The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Putting In Positive Performances rather than Worrying About Possible Pressures

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Looking back, when have you put in a positive performance and not worried about pressures?

You may have been mentoring a person, playing a sport, performing a song, conducting a surgical operation or whatever. Other people may have felt it was a pressure situation, but you felt at ease and able to excel.

What did you do right in the situation? You may have prepared properly, settled on your strategy and rehearsed every possible scenario. You may have then clicked into action, been totally present and performed superb work. You may have found solutions to challenges and kept doing your best to achieve the goal.

Different people have different attitudes to different situations. Here are three approaches.

Some people have a positive approach in certain situations that others see as full of pressures. They are playing to their strengths and feel able to deal with potential challenges. They may be performing as an athlete, surgeon, crisis manager or whatever.

Some people try to have a positive approach in certain situations but worry about pressures. They may be concerned about things going wrong, letting down others or meeting high expectations. Some find ways to deal with these concerns, whilst others become inhibited.

Some people get worried by pressures in certain situations and find it difficult to have a positive approach. They focus on issues they can’t control and fall into paralysis. This can lead to going into a downward spiral.

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There are many tools people can use to develop a positive mindset rather than a negative mindset. Looking at the world of sports psychology, for example, athletes are encouraged:

To be Calm rather than Chaotic 

To Flow rather than Freeze

To focus on their Inner Champ rather than their Inner Chimp

The New Zealand All Blacks rugby players, for example, were encouraged to switch to their Blue Head to embrace pressure. This called for being calm, clear and focusing on the process. Sometimes in the past they had responded to pressure by using their Red Head. They had become chaotic, frenzied and worried.

Ceri Evans, who worked with the All Blacks, believes it is vital for peak performers to play to their strengths, but also to explore how to deal with possible challenges. They need to practice performing under pressure so that such situations do not come as a surprise.

Below is a video in which Ceri explains this approach. Here is the official introduction to the piece that was part of Leaders In Sports summit. You can discover more about Leaders, the organisation that holds the summit, via the following link.

Ceri is a world-class forensic psychiatrist and sports psychologist.

He helps top athletes reach peak performance, handle pressure and make better decisions and played an integral role in developing the New Zealand All Blacks mental strength during their 2011 Rugby World Cup win.

In this session snippet, Ceri uses an analogy of a surgeon to explain why sports teams should embrace their vulnerabilities to reduce big game pressure and emotional responses.

Ceri works for an organisation called Gazing. You can discover more about their work – and the Blue Head approach – via the following link.

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you want to give a positive performance? You may be giving a keynote speech, pitching for business, playing in a sports event, tackling a difficult challenge or whatever.

How can you do your best to give a positive performance? You may aim, for example, to do some of the following things.

Positive Performance 

The specific things I can do to
give a positive performance are:

To set aside time to prepare properly.

To clarify the real results I want to achieve and translate this into a clear picture of success.

To recall a time when I have tackled a similar challenge successfully and the principles I followed to give a positive performance. 

To clarify how I can follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to give a positive performance.

To clarify what I can control in the situation and settle on the key strategies I can follow to give myself the greatest chance of success. 

To rehearse how I can follow these key strategies – plus deal with any difficulties that might arise – in the actual situation. 

To then relax and make sure I have enough energy to tackle the challenge. 

To, when going into the situation, breathe deeply, click into action and be fully present. 

To follow the key strategies, build on what is working and, where appropriate, make any other adjustments that are required.

To do my best to achieve the picture of success.

Great workers dare to anticipate and deal with the potential pressures. If you wish, describe the possible concerns you may have in the situation.

Every person is different and will deal with these pressures in different ways. So, after describing your concerns, outline your own ways for dealing with the pressures successfully. 

Possible Pressures

The specific pressures I may experience are:

To be concerned that I may let down other people.

To be concerned about things I can’t control.

To be concerned about what can go wrong. 

To be concerned that I forget how to stay calm and become frenzied. 

To be concerned that, despite my best efforts, I don’t succeed.

The specific things I can do to deal with
some of these possible pressures are:

To … 

To …

To … 

To … 

To …

Great workers then return to their picture of success. They focus on how they can do their best to give a positive performance. You will do this in your own way when giving a keynote speech, making a pitch, leading a project or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to bear in mind what you have written earlier about giving a positive performance and managing possible pressures. It then invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want put in a positive performance rather than worry about possible pressures.

Describe the specific things you can do to put in a positive performance. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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