Pressure, for most people, is seldom comfortable or welcome in either our personal or professional lives. Pressure to perform well in important situations can actually hinder rather than help us perform at our best. But an interesting research study has found that elite performers actually embrace pressure and use it to achieve at extraordinary levels (Hodge & Smith, 2014). In studying the remarkably successful All Blacks rugby team out of New Zealand, it was discovered that the coaches instilled in their players the mindset that intense pressure should be celebrated, treated as a sign of respect, and as a privilege. When the players adopted this perspective, pressure became a source of motivation and energy that enhanced and propelled their performance rather than detracted from it.
Performance pressure is not unique to athletes. Every profession and occupation packs its’ own unique form and source of performance pressure. Sales, medical, manufacturing, legal, and service industries all generate enormous pressures to perform well. We also face powerful pressure in our personal lives. Financial, relationship, and health issues can spawn significant pressure for the person responsible for the outcomes. But when you see pressure as being helpful, not a hindrance; as something to be savored, not feared; it becomes your ally, not your enemy. Performance pressure is an opportunity, not an obstacle, when you tap into the positive power pressure.
Hodge, K., & Smith, W. (2014). Public expectation, pressure, and avoiding the choke: A case study from elite sport. The Sport Psychologist, 28, 375-389