Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Performing Under Pressure -- Short and long-term tools for handling pressure

Performing Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most, Hendrie Weisinger and J. P. Pawliw-Fry, Crown Business (2015)  

All of us face stress and pressure daily. How do we handle these? Do we actually know the difference between the two? Authors Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry have written an outstanding book that not only describes the nature of pressure, but gives us ways to handle it so we can perform under pressure.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part offers an understanding of the nature and science of pressure. This is not only useful as background, it is helpful to delineate stress from pressure. “Pressure moments or situations might feel like stress in our bodies and in our thinking, but they are different because, in a pressure moment, your success or your survival is truly on the line. Stressful moments … do not matter nearly as much as pressure moments to your success or survival.” (p.34)

I found it very helpful to have this clarification. Also, the authors deal with choking. We often refer to an athlete or performer choking, but the authors helped me to understand when a choke is not really a choke at all. Finally, in the opening section, the authors present recent science describing what pressure does to our brains.

The second part of the book offers 22 short-terms solutions to pressure situations. Some short, some longer, these may seem obvious, mere common sense, but there will be several that are new to any ready. And they are worth the price of the book itself. From visualization to breathing, befriending the moment to reframing the opportunity, these will help you face your pressure moment whether it is at work or at home, on the field or on the stage. I took copious notes on these, and plan to use them when I face pressure (or even stress).

The final part of the book outlines a four-fold strategy to long-term coping with pressure. Under the acronym COTE of Armor, the authors encourage us to build Confidence, walk with Optimism, work with Tenacity, and approach life with Enthusiasm. This section is a little long and belabored and not as “user-friendly” as the middle section, but still has nuggets that can be applied instantly.

The book ends with a 4-step approach to maintain your COTE of armor: 1) Affirm your self, 2) Be positive every day, 3) Commit to your best, and 4) Celebrate. This may seem a little pollyanaish, but in context of the book (and especially the final section) makes sense and offers a way to summarize and apply their teachings. I intend to polish my COTE of Armor.

I recommend this book. It is well worth reading. For more information, check out the publisher’s link.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.