Calm Under Pressure

Have you ever had your hand caught in the door of a car when the door was shut? It hurts. A lot. I had such a joyful experience many years ago. While standing at the car, I had my hand in a really bad spot. As I stood there, she closed the door and instant pain shot through my fingers! And yes, the door was completely shut.

What would you do?

If you would have asked me that question, not having actually experienced this, I would have said, I’d scream…”Open the #$@! door!”  And the other person would first freak out, then try to figure out what was wrong, and then finally actually open the door. Too much time.

What did I do?

I calmly, but pretty intensely said, “Please open the door.”  She opened it right away, and I was free. Thankfully, there’s a little “give” in the door, so I managed to avoid anything broken – just pretty bruised.   Can’t say I’d react that way again, but I was pleased with my reaction that time.

Pressure. Difficulty. Adversity. How do we respond in these conditions?

It’s said that the real character of a person is revealed when that person is faced with true adversity.

Check out the true life story of Louis Zamperini in the book and movie, Unbroken.  It’s a remarkable story of a former Olympian who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in WWII and was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.

Or consider Kerri Strugg during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The US Women’s Gymnastics team had never won the women’s all-around Gold Medal. She needed to land a strong vault (her specialty) to seal the victory, but fell on her first attempt, wrenching her ankle in the process. As she limped to make her second, and final vault, she pushed forward – through the pain and pressure. She ran down the runway, vaulted perfectly and stuck the landing – standing on one foot! It turned out, she didn’t need that last vault to win, but she didn’t know it at the time. Pretty impressive. Yes! But even more impressive, she did it, knowing she would further damage her ankle and clearly be unable to perform in the individual rounds.

Calm under pressure. Another key to success in business, athletics and life.

Mike Greene