How to Guarantee Strong Performance Under Pressure

It’s easy to do great work when you have access to plenty of resources and time. The true test of your leadership skills, ability and confidence is your ability to function at your best when pressure is high and important decisions need to be made quickly.

You won’t generally have a say in when or how a high-pressure situation will strike, but you can learn to function well when it does by understanding what motivates and energizes you.

Visualize the destination, not the journey. Take a moment to visualize the calm after the storm: the work is done and done well, and you’re celebrating with your team. Positive visualization can alleviate pressure and help you relax and stay focused, reminding you that even the most intense situations eventually resolve.

Motivate yourself with a reward. You likely already have a reward system in place for your team, so why not for yourself? Research shows that people who know their hard work will be tangibly rewarded tend to perform better than those who don’t. Whether it’s a vacation, something you’ve been wanting to buy, or dinner at your favorite restaurant, pick a reward that will keep you going and pretend it’s already yours.

Create a system and focus on your actions. Pressure and anxiety result when things seem out of control, when you feel you have too much to do and you don’t know how you can accomplish it all. The solution is to craft a routine or system for getting the work done. Focus on your daily actions and carry out your plan with discipline and determination. A routine can help prevent panic and distraction, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

Remember the difference between being busy and being productive. Most of us are guilty of thinking we’re accomplishing something as long as we’re busy doing things, but that’s not necessarily the truth. It’s a matter of doing the things that help us accomplish our goals. Look at the things you’re doing and delegate or eliminate all the unnecessary activities that are taking up your time and interfering with your success.

Slow down to speed up. How many times do we rush into things because we feel pressured to do something? The better approach is to slow down, think about what you want to do and take some time to formulate a plan. Give yourself the space to be creative, innovative and productive instead of just reacting in the moment.

Take control where you can and let go where you can’t. In any moment of pressure, there are factors you have control over and factors outside that control. When you focus on the things you can’t control, the pressure—and your anxiety—are intensified. Focus on the things you can control and let the rest take care of itself. Take a deep breath and remember the traditional prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

When the stakes are high, it’s easy to let your nerves get to you. But remember that your character is revealed most clearly when the pressure is highest, so be the person who handles pressure thoughtfully and with grace.

Lead from within: Pressure is normal; it is what you do with that pressure that truly matters.

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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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