One of the most identifiable characteristics of a great leader is the ability to remain calm during chaotic situations. But while it may seem like staying how to stay calm under pressure is a trait that you are either born with or will never have, it is a learned skill.
Learning to stay calm and composed gives you a competitive advantage to be successful. Whether you're navigating the chaotic holiday season or the last seconds of a close game, this skill will help you stay focused on the task at hand, see things with clarity, and calm the chaos around us.
Here are ways to begin developing this skill, a critical part of the TB12 mindset.
- Understand Fight or Flight. The “Fight or Flight” response starts when your amygdalae, two clusters of grey matter in the brain responsible for processing memory, decision-making, and emotional responses, interpret a situation as a harmful — telling your body to take drastic action. Your breath gets short, and your peripheral vision goes away leaving you either like a deer in headlights or to act impulsively and irrationally.
- Take A Deep Breath. This sounds too simple to work, but by stopping, taking a few deep breaths, taking notice of your heartbeat, and relaxing your muscles, you have a heightened awareness of your body. The more you do this, the more you’ll feel in control when you need it.
- Avoid The Extremes. It is never good to get too high, or too low. If you’re too high, your emotions can cloud your judgment and decision making. If you’re too low, you can’t perform well either — you may be overconfident or don’t care enough. A little adrenaline is good for performance. By finding the steady and strong emotional middle ground, you can adjust to the ups-and-downs of life and maintain focus — this sort of stoicism, not natural born talent, is often what makes some of the greatest athletes great.
- Prepare Your Mind. If you want to be calm and composed down by three points in the 4th quarter or while giving a presentation at an important meeting, you must prepare. Think through the pressure situations you might see in the game or tough questions that might pop-up in the meeting that could throw you off your game and have an internal dialogue about how you will respond. This will prepare your mind and body to stay calm and cool when the tough situation you prepared for comes up on the real stage.