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How to Maximize Performance Under Pressure?

Where to turn for inspiration when performing under pressure?  Well, perhaps the performance-obsessed arena of Formula One™. 

Are you under pressure to perform in any of the following ways:

  • There is pressure on results?
  • New ways of working are needed?
  • People are feeling the strain?
  • Risk and uncertainty is high?

Well, perhaps you can find inspiration from others who have mastered the art of performance under pressure.   Specifically, from the performance-obsessed arena of Formula One™. 

Techniques for Performance Under Pressure

When the pressure is at its most what do racing drivers do?  Well, they take a pitstop.  It is one of the most powerful performance techniques in a business and sport that is obsessed with performance.

Ok, the driver will lose vital seconds out of the race, but the advantage of fresh tires should more than make up for it. Taking a pitstop might just give the edge to win. If nothing else, it will prevent an accident or blow-out – something that can easily happen on worn out tires.

For a few moments the driver puts their success in the hands of their team.  In a display of choreographed precision 20 people will change all 4 tires in under 2 seconds. It is, of itself, a marvel of human performance.

Why Do Pitstops Matter?

It is ironic that, in a sport obsessed with speed, taking a stop (or to be more precise a pitstop) is key to success. But, pitstops are essential if you want to perform to the limit.  Putting the foot down and hoping that the tires (or the fuel tank) will hold out is not an option.

The driver starts out with the perfect strategy (and set-up of the car), but must be ready to adapt in an instant to changing track conditions.  It is too late to change the tires or adjust the nose cone after the race is over.  This is the principle of mid-race adjustment and it is centered on the pitstop.    

Pitstops are the very definition of agility – something that organizations and teams are increasingly aspiring to in today’s more dynamics and unpredictable environments. 

It is hard to separate performance under pressure from decision making under pressure. Here pitstops offer inspiration too. They leverage data to enable more confident decisions with speed.

Data is key because, travelling at speed, there is a lot that the driver cannot see. Also, because decision making under pressure is prone to error and bias, data is key to effective decision making under pressure.

The Good News Is…

The good news that even for executives and teams operating under highest level of pressure, there is the potential for gains of an additional 7-25%.

Yes, even in high pressure environments – even when it seems that people are already performing at or close to the limit – there is another 7-25% performance potential that can be unlocked. Not only does this help the team to be more effective, but can serve to better manage the level of pressure (or at least how it impacts) on team members.

However identifying and exploiting these potential gains depends on the ability to pause and stand back from the busyness and pressure – to get clarity on what is working and what is not. That is to pitstop.

Imagine Your Team…

So, imagine your team pulling its projects and priorities into the pitlane for regular mid-race adjustments. 

Imagine your team working with the discipline, focus and intensity of a pit team to identify what is working and quickly fix what is not.

That is what pitstops are all about. The end result is that you can perform to the limit, sustaining performance in spite of even the most challenging circumstances.

Taking a pitstop might just give them the edge to win. 

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