“Lot of pressure, Dan…”

Those words were exclaimed by my neighbor and great friend Jim from across the street. He was watching me urging Captain Jack to hustle up with his potty break, as I wanted to return to watching the PGA Championship on television.

Captain Jack works on his own schedule and I doubt he was feeling much pressure from me! Jim likes to “remind me” about the perils of pressure!

And he’s right.

Maybe not so much with Captain Jack and Bella, who unlike humans tend to be present and not be motivated by my urgency. However, pressure on humans can be an entirely different situation.

As I watched the PGA Championship, it’s clear that even the most skilled golfers in the world are affected by pressure. I know I’m a much better golfer on the practice range than when faced with out of bounds to the right and water to the left on the course!

Being able to deal with pressure isn’t instinctive; nor is the lack of it a judgment on character. Effectively responding to pressure is a learned skill.

We all are wired differently, yet we all have the ability to learn. Pressure comes in many forms and levels of intensity.

For example, while hitting a golf ball in the water during a friendly round with friends is a low level of pressure (even if there is money on the line), the same result for a professional vying for a championship is far more monumental. The same is true in our personal and professional lives.

Pressure will mount for all of us when things like financial hardship, health concerns and emergencies, and legal burdens are growing or developing. We might feel pressure to “close” a big sale, or support a family member or friend in need. Why is it that some people handle pressure better than others?

Because they’ve learned how to be disciplined in the process of pressure.

Here are three considerations for you when dealing with any pressure moment…

First – dealing with pressure is foremost about confidence. Those people with high levels of confidence believe in their heart and mind that they will overcome any adversity. The event is temporary and they will ultimately make the correct decision or take the right course of action.

Second – slow is better than fast. “Fast” is prone to mistakes, while “slow” is thoughtful.

When things start feeling pressure-packed for me, I can physically feel the muscles  in my neck and shoulders tighten, and my mind begins racing. That’s my cue to slow everything down. Close my eyes; focus on my breathing, and importantly slowing down my mind. Have a process to slow down your heart and brain to improve decision-making.

Third – decide how perilous the situation really is. In the few times in my life where life and death were at stake, I was surprisingly calm. I will never forget giving my mother the Heimlich Maneuver during dinner. I had decades of training and although never having used it before, I was confident and calm in the execution and success of the action.

I think we often make too much out of things that have far lesser cause for alarm; increasing pressure on ourselves and making it harder to be successful.

Dealing with pressure is a learned skill and requires discipline, confidence, and action. In the end, Captain Jack will pee when he wants to regardless of any pressure from me.

Make sure you’re prepared to deal with any pressure – both internal and external – as adroitly as he does.

Quote of the Week:

“Enjoy the pressure. Enjoy the stress. Enjoy being uncomfortable. And don’t shy away from it; embrace it.”

~ Gary Woodland, champion golfer

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