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The word ‘pressure’ applies to each and every one of us, not just in sport where we deal with it on a daily basis. Needless to say, the word itself has negative connotations and we all see players wilting under pressure.So what is pressure? Pressure, very simply put, is the fear of failure; and the reason we feel pressure is worrying about not being able to achieve the desired outcome.
This brings me to the most important aspect of Sport, and life in general – Being in the present.
If you let your mind race ahead to the outcome instead of focusing on the process, that is when you feel pressure and let your mind wander. Here I turn to the age-old saying ‘Karm karo, phal ki iksha mat karo’, to explain my point. Simply put, focus on doing your job to the best of your ability without worrying about the results or outcome. Easier said than done, but that is the essence of what separates the Good from the Great and the ability to absorb pressure and use it as a tool to enhance your performance, rather than impede it.
I can think of numerous occasions in my career where I have let my mind race to results and outcomes and suffered as a result of it, but if I think back to all the exceptional performances that I have had in my career, I always found myself in what we term in Golf as ‘The Zone’; a state where you are completely absorbed in the shot and the execution and in your mind you only see positives; no matter what you do, you don’t think about your score or the results, you are totally in the moment. Getting in that Zone is simply about allowing yourself to perform to your full potential and getting out of your own way, without weighing yourself down with expectations.
If I were to simplify the whole concept of handling pressure, I would say it is detachment from outcome or results, whether in life, your job or the sport you play – focus on giving your best and not on what you expect or what others expect of you.
The top athletes in the world all thrive under pressure, as we see it on television, but in fact they treat each match, each point or each shot, as the case may be, in the same manner and with the same intensity; not allowing their minds to race into the future and the possible outcome.
The one lesson we can all take away from this is to live in the present, enjoy every moment and not dwell on things we cannot control, especially results!
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead October 2020 issue.