Navigate Your Stress

I’ve written in my blog about my evolving stress resilience model. You may remember (or not) that my definition of stress resilience encompasses how you build immunity (or resistance) to stress, how you navigate your stress when it is occurring in real time and how you bounce back from stress after the event occurred.

I was reading some blog posts from Paul Sullivan, a New York Times columnist and  author who wrote the recently released book “Clutch” that describes how top performers who excel under difficult situations beat out their other competitors. His examples range from athletes to business people to regular people who must often make critical decisions under extreme pressure.  What makes some of them succeed and the rest of us look on and want to learn their secrets.

Being able to deal with pressure in real time is a perfect example of what it means to navigate stress effectively. While its great to be clutch in really high pressure situations, its equally important to be effective in moderately or even mildly stressful situation—Your kid made a mess by spilling their food—how do you want to handle that? You just received an email from your boss to “come on down to my office, immediately”–oops now what?

Sullivan points out that handling these kinds of pressures involves several useful tools–discipline in maintaing a consistent approach, focus and attention and being present in the moment.

I’ve been exploring this idea of being “present in the moment” with a senior executive who find himself themselves losing his emotional balance in certain situations. As we’ve been discussing, being present in the moment means that you are attentive to what is going on around you and that it is not always necessary to respond immediately to a crisis. This translates to his taking a moment  to observe the situation, listen to what is being said, observe the body language of other speakers and participants before even considering  his choices. All too often, he told me, he blurts out his response only to wish that he could take it back once he gathers a bit more data.

Baseball batters will describe how clutch performance bring about a slowed perception of the world making the pitch easy to hit since its traveling in slow time when they are present and experiencing heightened senses. Like baseball players too, we do not always have to hit the ball out of the park. Just getting singles is a good way to advance the game and eventually win the day.

Stay focused and present, my friend.

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