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5 Simple Strategies to Help You Perform Under Pressure

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how to perform under pressure

Keeping calm and clear in high-end pressure situations is a skill and not always that easy, especially as we raise the stakes. Whether it’s giving a presentation, performing a musical piece, playing a sport or entering a job interview, there are skills and strategies we can implement to help us perform at a higher level.

Here are 5 things you can do to help you perform under pressure:

1. Focus more on what you can control over what you can’t

On the lead-up to any performance, focusing on what you can control over what you can’t is a very effective way to get you in the zone. Let’s imagine we have two circles:  the circle of concern (things you can’t control) and the circle of influence (choices you can make to influence your environment).  If we spend too much time focusing on what we can’t control it can lead us to either fall into a negative mindset or lose track of our own progress.

There is nothing wrong with analysing what the competition is doing – sometimes this clearly has to be done, especially in the business world and sport. However, too much focus on the opponent can be negative in the long run. If you’re starting any business venture, take a look at what the competitors are doing but then play to your own strengths. Don’t just copy or get sucked into what they are doing.

You are unique, so celebrate that and create something you’re proud of. If you are a musician, remember the phrase ‘Steal like an artist’. Listen and play your favourite band’s songs then take all the influences and write some fresh, new original material.

2. Develop concentration through meditation

Concentration may sound like a very obvious example to keep you in the zone. One very effective way to increase your concentration levels is through meditation. By simply focusing on one object during the meditation you can master the art of concentrating the mind. This could be an external object, the breath or the inner body. The idea is to keep bringing the mind back every time it wanders. So for any long match in which your attention and concentration is needed, you can hold a high level of concentration for longer.

“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

3. Use an anchor

Using a holistic word or image to guide performance. This can be a great technique for when we start to overthink during a task. This can be a really helpful strategy to help keep our minds in the moment and at ease. It can be as simple as using a holistic cue word such as ‘expansive’, ‘smooth’ or ‘clear’. Anything that enhances the movement in the performance.

Now, if we apply this with an image this can become very effective. A group of basketball players did an experiment in which they used the analogy, ‘Shoot as if you were trying to put a cookie in a cookie jar on a high shelf’. In the same experiment, another set of players were given an eight-step rundown on what to do. The team who were given the simple analogy outperformed the other group when the pressure was increased.

4. Affirmations

For me, affirmations don’t work just on their own. They sound great but need utilising more effectively. A great way to do this to have a three-step process when writing your affirmations.  Affirmations are also personal. A professional rugby player may use a completely different set of affirmations than a professional snowboarder. And it’s down to the individual’s tastes and needs in the given task.

Step one: Hold a factual statement on who you are. “I am one of the most committed, skilled musicians there is”.  

Step two: Hold the right mindset prior to the event by identifying the main obstacles the performer faces.  By adding “If I do this”, you really give the affirmation impact. “My biggest challenge is harnessing my concentration. If I harness my concentration I really get into the flow of the music”.

Step three: Focus on improving your process and practice. “There will always be bum notes but they can never penetrate my secure performance bubble. There are no limits at the margin of everything I do”.

Be creative with your affirmations and come up with some yourself. Have fun with them but stick to the three steps and don’t cheat yourself – use affirmations that really affirm how you think and feel.

“I accept my power.” – Louise Hay

5. Feeling and accepting what arises

This is to desensitise yourself to the discomfort of pressure. This can be a great technique for helping musicians with stage fright. Many musicians at first struggle with stage fright, but over time they get used to getting up over and over again – it becomes like home.

Their biggest challenge is keeping the consistency when the pressure gauge is turned up. This can also be a really helpful way to manage your emotions. A lot of the time we tend to resist what arises. This is especially true in a high-pressure situation. By simply accepting what arises, you may be surprised to see the emotions shift.

One of the most effective ways to accept an emotion is to consciously ‘be’ the emotion. This may sound paradoxical, but true acceptance comes when you can truly be with what arises.

A level of confidence will naturally grow from this great insight. For example, if anger arises in a situation, it might not be the most helpful emotion. If you catch it as it arises, ‘be’ the anger – remain rooted in it and see what happens. If you resist it, it only gets stronger.

This is the same for anxiety and nerves. Try your best not to resist what arises. This may sound a lot easier than it is, but with time it can really be a powerful technique in both pressured situations and the rest of your life. Take some time to try some of these strategies and step into your greatness today.

What do you do to help you perform under high pressure situations? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Daniel Rutter is a Musician, teacher and life coach, He is on a mission to help people find their own greatness across the globe. Whether it's increasing performance, having better relationships, finding your purpose in life or finding the happiness you want, Danny has developed the tools needed to help each individual awaken their own greatness. Head over to his website to learn more.

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

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The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it

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Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it. It’s not just about sitting in a room full of people. You’ve got to find the ones that fit your career puzzle, dive in while you’re there, and then make the most of what you’ve learned afterward. (more…)

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Success Advice

Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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how to overcome obstacles for success

In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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