My son recently participated in an All Star tournament for his Little League. Watching him through the tournament, the confidence he built throughout the regular season was clearly abandoned for feelings of alienation and a general lack of passion.
When we feel the pressure of highly capable people around us, it can affect our mindset. We strive to be great in our given discipline yet when we achieve greatness and are subsequently thrust to the stage, we sometimes wither into our former selves.
Every game has an important, elevated “next level” stage like an All Star game in Little League or an executive leadership meeting for a new Director. It’s in these situations that you’ll inevitably notice that some of the players are not shaken by the heightened pressure but instead thrive on it. When others crumble as the game intensifies, these individuals exude a calmness under pressure which, when it becomes contagious enough, can spur on the team’s ability to succeed in spite of their nerves.
What, I wonder, causes some of us to break under pressure versus see the pressure as just another game to be played? Perhaps the only way to build this mindset is to have played those high pressure games enough to not be fazed by them.
Perhaps it’s on the leaders of great teams, then, to practice high pressure situations on the fields of greatness (real or simulated), in order to build comfort and coolness under pressure. If we can do that, maybe our entire team can be All Stars.