When the heat is on, how do you perform? Can you remain calm? Can you focus on the task at hand? Or do you crack under pressure? Or maybe you take out your stress on those around you? If so, you need to find ideas and tools to remain calm and focus, like Shaun White did last night.
Last night I watched him win his third Olympic gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe competition in the last four Olympic games. He first appeared in the Olympics as an 18 year old teenager. This year he s a 31 year old competing against much younger competition. The silver medal winner is 19 and the bronze medal winner is 23. He was the oldest competitor in the event.
We all know his name from his snowboarding accomplishments, or maybe you know him from his skateboarding accomplishments. Maybe you think his latest gold medal was a given. I’ll bet he’ll tell you a different story.
After two rounds of three, White was in second place. He was the last athlete to ride the halfpipe in the finals. Crash or don’t put down a high level run and it would have been a silver for White. But if there is one thing he knows how to do, it is to perform under pressure. Eyes were on him from around the world. He threw down an obviously fantastic run that even someone uninitiated as to what a great snowboarding halfpipe run is would have known he deserved gold. See for yourself here:
He already has Olympic gold medals. He had nothing to prove. He could have phoned it in and people would have said “he is good, but he’s getting old. At least he got a silver medal.” Instead he focused on the task at hand. One run stood between White and his goal. It sure seems like he must shut out his surroundings – the crowd, both there and around the world, his family, the idea of crashing – and go to work. It wasn’t guaranteed to work out, that he would win gold.
Part of performing under pressure is to try to do your best under the circumstances. For White it was about focusing on his run, tricks and performing a clean run. For me it could be drafting and filing the best pleading I can by a fast approaching deadline. The pressure you feel is relative to what you do for a living.
Next time you are feeling the pressure, think of 31 year old White besting his much younger competition and put that inspiration into what you have to do. You may not be awarded a gold medal, but those depending on you will appreciate the manner in which you perform when the heat is on.