Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Under Pressure

Posted by CheapRunnerMichelle

Anyone else hear that song playing in their head?

The older I get, the more I am starting to realize how much more productive I am when on a deadline and under pressure to succeed. Let's back up to last week...typically there are 4 of us that work "in the office" at my work, with each of us having our own areas of responsibility....well last week...little 'ol me...was all alone - that's right everyone else was off - and I was left with everyone's work load. Not only did this make for a "quiet" week around the office, but it also made me realize how much better I am (a) when I have a ton of work to accomplish (b) having the pressure to make sure everything is taken care of. Especially in the industry that I work in...deadlines are no joke...and I have to be able to stay of top of things and sometimes make the impossible happen.

So this all got me to thinking....why is it that some people just choke when the pressure is on, but then others are able to stay relatively calm and cool.

Is it bad that I thrive on the pressure to produce? I feel like it is something that I need to keep me focused and on target with the end goal.

So what makes some people choke when put in the circumstance?

Often we can be our own worst enemy.  Top performers like Usain Bolt and Miguel Cabrera out-perform not just because of greater aptitude, but because they are at their best WHEN IT COUNTS THE MOST.

So why is it that we are not all able to do this?


Inability to Accept Responsibility:  We humans are naturally superstitious.  We look for omens that bode well or evil.  Our brains are wired to seek out patterns.  However, until we learn to accept responsibility for success and failure, we will always be giving ourselves an excuse to falter.


Over thinking: One of the toughest things about high-pressure situations is that there is a lot more to think about other than just our own performance.  We envision the accolades if we prevail and condemnation if we falter.  Neither of these things, however, have anything to do with how we execute.


Overconfidence:  When things are going well, you think you can’t lose. Obviously, you can.  Whenever it seems that there is no trouble on the horizon, chances are that you’re missing something.

So let's discuss a few ways that we can perform better under pressure.

Focus:  With so much going on around us all the’s easy to lose focus.  In high pressure situations, keeping your mind on what’s truly important is even harder. And what’s important?  What you need to do next.  It’s crucial to focus on the task at hand.


Discipline:  We all have some things that we like to do and  that we’re good at.  We can usually impress people with our talents, so there is a self reinforcing effect.  Others encourage us to do what we do best, therefore we do more of it and get better at it, which earns us even more admiration. Much less is said about the stuff we hate doing.  That could be getting to the gym when we feel tired, making it to meetings on time, sending thank you notes or learning a new skill. These things are hard to do consistently, when we’re tired or depressed, day after day. It can be a thankless job when others rarely notice our efforts. Yet it’s the small, hard earned victories that make the difference.  The things we struggle with when no one will notice and for which we are unlikely to get credit.  That’s what separates mere talent and true excellence.

Adaptability:  It’s always a good idea to have a strategy or a plan going into a situation, but you have to accept the fact that events almost never play out as you expect them to.

Great calamities, as well as great opportunities, usually come as a surprise.  That’s what makes them such important events.  If we expected them, they wouldn’t amount to much.


Being Present:  There’s a natural human tendency to think about consequences; however, in a pressure situation, it works against us. When it’s time to perform, thinking about outcomes will only get in the way.  What you really need to do is focus on the task at hand. (Are you starting to sense the theme?!?)

Put yourself out there...Don’t hide.  It’s only through giving yourself the opportunity to fail that you can ever really succeed.  Performance under pressure, like anything else, is a skill and one that can be learned.

Anyone else enjoy being in the pressure cooker like me?

Tell me something you are doing today!

Mike and I are taking his sister and her hubby out for dinner for his birthday to 168 Sushi...totally pumped!!!


  1. I think that I'm like you - pressure lights a fire under me and I can do way more because I know that I have to be focused!!!
    Today I'm working an event at our new (just closed yesterday) event venue - a little pressure for sure!!!

  2. I work best under pressure and deadlines. I feel my mind goes into clarity and time slows for me. Go full on Neo on that work or run!

    What am I doing today? eating a lot and going to Physical Therapy!

  3. Charlotte@CommitnessToFitnessAugust 28, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    when im under pressure i can actually do quite well. its when i dont have any real deadline that i start procrastinating, over thinking and all those things you were spot on about. however, i dont suffer from over confidence though- in fact just the opposite- even when things are going great i see how quickly they could fall to pieces. i need to work on that.

  4. It is a BEAUTIFUL looking Venue...can't wait to hear how your 1st event today goes!!! Good Luck

  5. I'm eating alot's an all you can eat sushi/Thai place that we are heading to tonight!

  6. I work so much better under pressure and with deadlines! I even told my boss to give me more deadlines (even if there really isn't one) just because I work way more efficiently

  7. Sugar Coated SheridanAugust 28, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    This is so TRUE! I am exactly the same way and rise to the challenge anytime I am pushed. Wish I could push myself more!!

  8. I like the way you think...I just might have to try this!

  9. I am so with you on this. Pressure and stress make me way more productive. Also as much as I don't care for deadlines, I generally do well with them.
    I went to Whole Foods for lunch and shopping at Hollister where I picked up a super cute jacket on sale. Boom!

  10. Ashley @ Life and FitnessAugust 28, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    When I am under alot of pressure it's surprising how much you can really get done in a short amount of time. However I feel like I perform better when I have planned things in advance.

  11. Nothing like a little pressure to push out a little more ;)

  12. I went to Lulu last night and picked up a racer tank for $29!!!! soooo excited

  13. As much as I like to have a "loose" plan set ahead of me...I still need the pressure