Book Review: Performing Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most, by Hendrie Weisinger and J. P. Pawliw-Fry
How well do you handle pressure? Does it cripple your performance? Do you rise to the occasion when the pressure is greater?
The author’s premise in Performing Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most, is that nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity, and performance in every professional and personal arena. That being said, the authors believe that there are things we can do to diminish the effects that pressure has on our performance.
The authors divide the book into three sections. Part 1 discusses the nature and science of pressure. They explain the difference between pressure and stress, and how those differences impact us. They provide insight into why we feel the heat in a pressure moment and how we inadvertently put pressure on ourselves and others. They discuss the phenomenon of “choking” and what causes it, and what pressure does to our brains and how it affects our way of thinking in those situations.
In Part 2, the authors present 22 helpful solutions on how to handle pressure situations. The ideas are helpful and practical, but in some respects, sound counter-intuitive. They include embraicing pressure as an opportunity or challenge rather than a threat, approaching the situation as just another performance rather than exaggerating the significance, and expecting the unexpected. These strategies are easy to understand and can be implemented now for a quick fix.
In Part 3, the authors weave together the material from the first two sections and encourage the reader to develop a COTE of armor. COTE serves as an acrostic for Confidence, Optimism, Tenacity, and Enthusiasm. They include a number of practical illustrations and exercises to help the reader put these into practice.
I found the book very interesting. It presented some new ideas that were counter to what I believed previously about how people perform in pressure situations. I found myself agreeing with the Part 2 strategies and the importance of the COTE of armor helping shape your mental approach to handling pressure.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.