(I can't figure out how to get videos here correctly, so here is a link to an appropriate song from Queen and David Bowie.)
Tick… tick… tick. Whether it is the silence after that hard question or the end of the fourth quarter or the last lap of a race or, if you happen to be James Bond, the remaining time on the detonator, we all know about pressure. We also have a collective myth that some people perform better than ever under pressure. Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry debunks the myth and provides some techniques that can help us cope with pressure.
The first section of the book defines and discusses what pressure is and what it does to us. It examines the data about performance in pressure situations, which does not support the concept of the “clutch” player. The authors argue that no one does better under pressure than not under pressure; some people just manage to do less poorly than others.
The second section provides short term help for pressure situations. The tips focus on how to cope with the symptoms of pressure. They suggest that using the tips in the moment will improve performance. (I just finished reading the book last night, so I have not personally experimented with the techniques yet, but they look promising.)
The final section is perhaps the most interesting, in that it lays out a plan for character development to address some of the root causes of pressure. The cute acronym “COTE” of armor annoys the heck out of me, but cultivating confidence, optimism, tenacity, and enthusiasm seems like a good idea.
In all, it is an interesting read, if not a life-changing book.