How Do You Perform Under Pressure?


What puts you under pressure? How do you cope? This was the theme of our February Concannon Connection event held at Mythe Barn near Atherstone. Unless you happen to be one of our speakers, it’s unlikely you will be inches from death due to motorbike racing, surfing a 40ft wave (yes, really!) or jumping an incredibly high wall on a powerful horse. So, why is that we often react badly when we’re put under pressure?


Fight or flight

Most of you will be familiar with this phrase - fight or flight. This is our body’s way of reacting to a threat – i.e. we run away, or we throw a punch. When we feel threatened, our adrenalin kicks in and starts pumping. Oxygen races to the brain and away from our extremities. Of course, most of the time it’s unlikely that we are in a real life and death situation. Unfortunately, this is how our body tends to react when we’re facing non-life-threatening stress too. However, it’s the way that we respond to this pressure that really counts.

Different pressures for different people

Pressure means different things to different people. We went around the room and asked each table to discuss the types of pressure that affect them. As you can imagine, we ended up with a long list of responses, but most can be summed up into the categories below:

  • Family problems – illness, conflict, caring for elderly parents

  • Parental problems – juggling a busy life, child starting school, being a single parent

  • Relationship issues – divorce or the need to divorce!

  • Society expectations – age, money, keeping fit, keeping up with the Joneses…

  • Business – work-life balance, cash flow, deadlines, meeting client expectations, public speaking

One of the most interesting responses was being under pressure, but not showing others that you are under pressure – this is a good one!

Some people are at their very best when put under pressure. If you’re a deadline driven person, a certain level of stress is likely to help you perform better. However, others might

fall apart in the same situation. Remember, most of the time pressure is non-life-threatening and is solely in your head. So, how do you manage this pressure?

Learn how to manage your own head

Think of a time when you didn’t have any pressure at all, when you were feeling relaxed and chilled. When you’re in a relaxed state, you can cope better under pressure. You will be able to make better decisions and you will be able to manage your own head. By this I mean you can learn how to prepare yourself, so you can control the way that you react to pressure. At the event, our speakers gave examples of being able to cut out the noise, focusing only on the task at hand, whether this involved controlling a horse to make a jump, or counting the time in-between waves on a surfboard. Are there any ways you can reduce the feeling of being under pressure?

Age has its advantages

Over time, age will help you to learn how to manage your head. Every stage of life brings different pressures, so remember to enjoy the journey. There’s little point wishing you were younger. You will benefit greatly from all the experience and knowledge you have gathered along the way. I wouldn’t want to go back to any past age because I have learned how to manage my head and how to respond to pressure.

The key to happiness

Being able to manage pressure means thinking about time in a completely different way. When you think about time differently, you will think of your life in a different way too. Find enjoyment in certain things - and do those things often. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and avoid negative people, as they will only bring you down.

So, how can you improve on the way that you respond to pressure? Take some time out to think and reflect on possible ways you can deal with things differently, whether at home or in the workplace

Next Concannon Connection event

Our next event will be on 23 March 2018 at The Belmont Hotel. If you’ve been to any of my events before, you will know the rule – it’s free to come along, but I do ask that you bring someone along with you. This could be a client or your mum, it really doesn’t matter! To find out more about our Concannon Connection events, Small Business Club, or our Director’s Development Forum, please...

Cherie ConcannonComment