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If you want to perform better under pressure, read this;
It was created in 1908 by psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, who formulated their conclusions on the basis of the study of Japanese dancing mice.
Anecdotally, this probably checks out for most people:
The pressure of the deadline gets us into a focused state that pushes us through to the finish.
If we procrastinate too much, the pressure becomes overwhelming and our performance suffers as the deadline approaches.
The bit of added stress—from the bright lights of the arena—elevates our performance.
But if the situation gets too pressure-filled, we may start to crumble.
This is a state of low arousal.
This state is necessary for recovery, but it is generally not conducive to performance.
Working on important tasks while in this state is not ideal.
This is the optimal state of arousal.
It’s the “Goldilocks” level—not too hot, not too cold, just right.
When you’re in this state, you are well-positioned to work on important tasks.
This is a state of high arousal.
This is typically where we see a biological fight-or-flight response kick in.
It may lead to a complete shutdown from system overload.
For a week, log your levels of stress while completing various activities through an average day, and then log your relative performance on these activities.
Create a mental map of your curve—develop an awareness of where you are on the curve at any point in time.
When working on important tasks, leverage this awareness to spend more time in an optimal stress state and less time in a low or high-stress state.
Lewis Hamilton is capable of performing at an optimal level under much higher relative stress than an average knowledge worker.
There are genetic factors at play, but you can also train yourself to handle and manage stress more efficiently:
Example: Get into a cold shower or ice bath and see if you can focus and perform a mental task (simple math, reciting a poem, etc.) for a fixed period of time.
Learning to manage stress is the first step.
Learning to wield it as a weapon in your personal arsenal is the next step.
The years of training under a variety of stress loads is one of the reasons I believe athletes tend to make great hires.
They are literally trained to handle and manage stress and perform through it.
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