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5 Secrets to Remaining Calm Under Pressure

stress Jan 29, 2020

I had spent the weekend dreading Monday morning.

But it wasn't any ordinary Monday morning.

I ran an energy trading firm with 10's of millions invested in positions across the country.  Over the weekend, the weather forecast had changed such a degree that our Futures positions (exchange-listed derivatives) were going to kill us when the markets opened on Monday morning.

How would I survive that day?

How much money would we lose?

Would my career be over by 5pm?

What would I do next?

They were questions that I pondered as I went to the office.

In the subway, a busker played a calming hymn on a flute that lowered my heart rate, and helped me refocus my thoughts on the task at hand and leave tomorrow until tomorrow. But as I went into that office I had to front up and face the pressure and fight of my life.

Business can be like tennis some days

Tennis is a very mental game where to reach and stay at the top, you have to be able to be at your best under the most intense pressure.  There is no one else.  No one to cover for you when you're not at your best.

Recently I have been enjoying watching Australian woman's champ Ash Barty progress through the Australian Open.

She is a talented tennis player, but what stands out to many people is her ability to remain calm and consistent under intense pressure.

I saw a post about why that is - the skills she had learnt from her mental skills coach Ben Crowe.

Below is a re-post of what I gained from Ben's interview.  5 points that help Ash stay calm under stressful situations.

3 of the 5 are what got me through that fateful Monday.

Can you guess which ones?

By the end of Monday we had lost 8 figures (and the first number wasn't a 1).  By the end of the quarter it was higher still as we took more hits as we tried to dig ourselves out.  

But calmness under pressure - no pressure bringing out the best in me and my team - meant that we made it all back by the end of that year.

The failure was very painful at the time, but it didn't last.  The future can still be bright - especially if we embrace the winning mindset of champion tennis players like Ash Barty. 

We will all fail

But what will it mean to you?  How will you respond?

Ash Barty knows she is valuable outside/apart from her being a tennis player.  Even if she never won another point again in tennis, she knows her value.

I hope you know that too.


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