The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Pressure As A Trigger For Giving Your Personal Best

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Many sports people talk about focusing on their performance, rather than the prize. They say, for example:

“I need to put in a good performance and do my personal best.”

Individuals and teams talk about ‘controlling the controllables’, because many things are out of their control.

They can control their attitude and approach to doing their best. But there are some things out of their control, such as bizarre calls by officials.

Providing they put in a good performance, however, they will increase their chances of winning the prize. A similar rule applies in other areas of life.

“Pressure is just another adrenalin kick for me,” said one person.

“During my life I have had many wake-up calls. They have triggered me into action. Pressure is something I welcome, because it spurs me to deliver fine work.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe a possible pressure situation you may face in the future. You see this as a chance to be positive, be professional and give your personal best.

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You Can
Be Positive

Most people will recognise the need to be positive when tackling a challenge. But this positivity must be based on belief. It must come from the gut.

How to make this happen? One approach is to invite people to revisit their positive history. It is to invite them to go through the following exercise.

Describe a time when you have tackled a similar challenge successfully.

Describe the specific things you did right then – the principles you followed – to tackle the challenge successfully.

Describe the specific things you can do to follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to tackle the present challenge successfully.

This is an exercise I have used many times with people during mentoring sessions. They may be a person working through a setback, a singer preparing for a big performance, a leader making a tough decision or whoever.

People need real belief. So the key is to find their successful pattern. Everybody has such a pattern, even if they have only followed it for ten seconds. The next step is to build on this sense of belief. It is to build on what they know works – plus add other skills – to enable them to achieve success.

Positive people tend to do something that was mentioned earlier. They aim to ‘control the controllables’. Negative people tend to focus on what they can’t control.

So sometimes it is important to invite a person to look ahead to the potential pressure situation and do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can control.

Describe the specific things you can’t control.

Describe the specific things you can do to build on what you can control and manage what you can’t.

Peak performers prepare properly before entering the situation in which they want to excel. Starting their career, they may have got by on talent alone.

But, when progressing further, they encountered more challenging situations. Such people then faced a decision. They could choose:

To rehearse consistently and consistently give peak performances.

To rehearse occasionally and occasionally give peak performances.

Different people use different forms of mental rehearsal. Many pursue the following formula.

They rehearse the key strategies they can follow to do their best in the situation.

They rehearse tackling the key challenges they may face in the situation.

They rehearse again the key strategies they can follow to do their best in the situation.

Bearing in mind some of these topics, let’s return to the situation in which you want to be positive, professional and give a peak performance.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to be positive in the situation.

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You Can
Be Professional

Peak performers aim to be super professional. They often have a ritual they use to click themselves into this mode when entering the arena.

The Chief Executive takes a moment in their car before getting out and entering their work place. They say: “Now I am on stage.”

The footballer clicks into game mode when leaving their hotel room. They say: “Now I am focused on ensuring that I and my team mates do our best.”

The Surgeon clicks into trusted advisor mode when meeting a patient. They say: “Now I am going to make them feel welcome and show that I am on their side.”

Such people are super professional. They keep focusing on the key strategies they can follow to do their best. They produce consistent performances by continually doing the right things in the right way.

Professional people are fully present. They are alive, alert and use their antennae. They build on what is working and find alternatives to what isn’t. They do whatever is required to deliver the goods.

Let’s return to the situation in which you want to be positive, professional and give a peak performance. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to be professional in the situation.

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You Can Give
Your Personal Best

Looking back, can you think of a time when you gave your personal best?

You may have been managing a crisis, leading a team, singing on stage or whatever. What did you do right then? What were the principles you were following? How can you follow those principles – plus maybe add other skills – in the future?

Great workers continually perform the basics and achieve high standards. Sometimes they then add the brilliance, which means they do something special. Different people have different ways of making this happen.

Some people stay calm. They then focus on clarity, creativity and concrete results. Clarifying the real results to achieve, they consider their choices, the consequences and the possible creative solutions. Committing to their chosen way forward, they do what is required to deliver concrete results.

“My best performances come when I forget myself,” said one singer during a mentoring session.

“My career took off, then stalled. I became preoccupied with being loved by everybody. It got to the point where I froze if I spotted a person who was not being appreciative.

“Returning to my roots helped. I focused on the song and singing it truthfully, rather than worrying about the reaction.

“Paradoxically, the performances drew greater responses from audiences. I now try to forget myself and give everything possible to the songs.”

Great workers take this step by doing their best. They sometimes go into their equivalent of the zone. They flow, focus, finish and, as a by-product, gain a sense of fulfilment. Sometimes they reach their goals by adding that touch of class.

People sometimes use pressure as a trigger for doing great work. They achieve this by being positive, professional and aiming to give a peak performance. You will, of course, take these steps in your own way.

Let’s return to the situation in which you want to give everything. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to give your personal best.

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