Cool Under Pressure

In business, the ability to be cool under pressure is a real asset. Emotionality, impulsivity, and paralysis can cost you big money and keep you in the shallow end of the career pool.

Luckily, there is a way to develop this quality ~ and it isn’t necessarily dependent on experience. It comes from mindfulness.

Under pressure, we are often faced with uncertainty. Humans don’t like uncertainty, so we make up stories about what is happening in order to feel certain. If those stories are based on fear, we go into reaction. Our amygdala is activated, and we constrict or collapse into disempowerment. 

In uncertainty, however, there is another option. We can stay connected to empathy, our internal sense of power, and trust that we will somehow find a way through. We can get curious. This draws our attention into our prefrontal cortex and allows us to stay cool under pressure. We become able to find generative solutions.  

The decision you make about how to approach uncertainty will dictate your ability to influence the course of events. 

This decision is not a foregone conclusion, nor does it depend on your circumstances. You can apply a constructive approach to both positive and negative experiences. The person who has this power is you. 

Consider one of the most difficult periods of your life. If you dropped into a fear response in your amygdala, you probably found it difficult to recover from it. You may have believed this was happening “to you”. You lost personal power. 

When you approach difficult situations from your prefrontal cortex, you are more likely to emerge unscathed. Losing a top paying client, being unceremoniously fired, or the overnight disappearance of stock value can rock your inner world. But the choice to interpret events from fear or from trust is always yours.

Confidence comes from facing difficult events successfully. You can’t talk yourself into feeling confident. You can only practice and master the awareness that allows you to make generative choices. When you do this regularly, it builds the internal capacity that will pull you through difficult situations. 

Independent thinking supports being cool under pressure. Why? Because fear is contagious, and group think will take you down. If you want to keep your power in difficult situations, you must be strong enough to not follow the herd. Be strong enough to take direction when it comes from legitimate authority that knows what it’s talking about. Don’t rebel out of reactivity. Develop the ability to hold your own space when the group mind, however subtle, takes over. Mindfulness practice is the key.

If you avoid giving your power away in small situations, you will be more likely to stay cool under pressure in bigger situations. For it is all about power ~ and the knowing that you have the agency to direct your experience in every moment. 

To your success,