I used to be a keen golfer and follower of the sport on TV. It has always interested me to see how players deal with the pressure of competition whether they be amateur or professional. Personally, I recall having often crumbled when standing over a 3-foot putt or sent a drive on the 18th hole careering into the trees when in a potentially winning position.
Why does this happen and what can you do when the pressure is on in order to counter the effect of those ‘nerves’?
Those that understand and teach that mental ‘inner game’ would say that we need to practice those situations both practically and in our minds before handling them better.
We also face similar stressful situations in our businesses from time to time, whether it is a slump in sales, a lost customer, a debtor going out of business owing a lot of money, or some sudden bad news such as a key employee handing in their notice.
Two things that are really effective in such situations
Firstly, acknowledge the difficulty of the scenario and take time to sit with and understand it. Don’t try to ignore it or dress it up into something which puts it into the realm of avoidance – it serves no good purpose.
Secondly, go back to the basics of simple fundamental behaviour. So what does that mean? In the golf scenario, a mental coach will suggest that the player bring their focus right back to just hitting a solid shot, ignoring the target or the importance of the match – just get the ball in play.
Then repeat this basic process until confidence and trust returns. A marathon runner who hits ‘the wall’ will bring their focus down to just observing the movement of their arms and legs, as well as their breathing, in order to bring their smoothness back again. A salesman will shift their focus away from targets or quotas down to just making the next call, to say hello and make a connection. He then repeats the process, building confidence until a sale happens within one of those conversations.
Back to basics strategy
It is inevitable that we all get out of rhythm from time to time. Accepting it as part of the normal cycle of life and business is an important first step. However it would be very useful to know what your ‘back to basics strategy’ might look like in order to be ready when you hit that ‘wall’ too.
Perhaps you might give it some serious consideration, write it down and put it in an easily reached place marked ‘In Case of Emergency!’