As soon as we begin to play to win in this mentorship program, we immediately move from the realm of practice into the realm of competition. And that simple addition of risking winning or losing requires a totally new skill: Performing under pressure.
Performing under pressure means decisions have to be made quickly, you must be flexible and able to adapt to change, you are being watched all the time, you have brutal schedules, are frequently sleep-deprived and it’s often lonely at the top!
Believe it or not, our ability to perform under pressure frequently stems from our childhood experiences. There is a sophisticated relay system between the body and the mind that determines how well we will do later in life when required to skillfully execute something that we have previously learned. Entrepreneurs more than anyone else need to unleash the ability to perform under pressure. Their ventures and all their stakeholders depend on it!
Entrepreneurs are always personally responsible for the bottom line. According to Bloomberg, 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. There are several reasons why this happens, but one of the big ones is dysfunctional leadership. It’s not enough to be creative and have talent. Look at gifted athletes like Lance Armstrong and Mike Tyson, who failed miserably because they didn’t take care of their “inner game.”
Timed tests, oral reports all get registered in a part of the brain that remembers these events (the hippocampus). There’s also another part of the brain, called the limbic system, whose job is to sense danger and react to it accordingly. If we’ve had negative experiences in the past, we find ourselves feeling fearful from the pressure of competing in the workplace; the body releases hormones that prepare us for danger. These hormones, then affect our ability to think clearly or problem solve. You can imagine what that kind of havoc does to your ability to manage your team!
Many times managers are promoted because of their expertise in their chosen field. But managers must be able to manage people – and that requires first, self-knowledge and secondly, emotional intelligence. In this mentorship program, great managers create positive relationships with their teams. There are people skills that must be learned. I always say that good mental health is not a natural sport, it’s a learned sport!
1. Acknowledge that pressure-related discomfort is normal
2. Learn to welcome the feeling of discomfort