This week we enjoyed one of the most insightful gatherings of the Business Book Group.
I must confess to skim reading a lot of ‘The Pressure Principle’ by Dave Alred and was struggling to see a direct relevance to the business world.
By the end of our discussion my thoughts were completely turned around!
Yes, OK, the sports focus and all the name dropping is a bit tiresome and some of the business examples are rather contrived and forced, however there were many things that I now see are of direct relevance. Let me share some of the nuggets which were realised by participants this evening.
The coaching definition used focuses on the love of learning – returning to that child like state where it is fun and you just get up and do it again! It introduces the concept of the ‘no limits’ mindset.
He introduces an 8-step model: Anxiety; Language; Managing learning; Implicit-Explicit Balance; Behaviour; Environment; Sensory Shutdown: Thinking Correctly under pressure.
The narrative was very strong on focusing on the process - never mind the outcome - knowing that by breaking down the process into tiny steps and following it exactly the outcome is assured.
We talked about how that translates to a management role and goes beyond acquiring general skills, even at senior level. Breaking processes down to the degree of detail employed in elite sports is mind blowing! Then just focusing on one tiny part of that process – I am still not sure how that works in a busy office when everything carries on around you. The concept of focus and practice is a good one though.
I liked the concept of the ‘ugly zone’. Where you deliberately put yourself beyond your current level of expertise and work through it tirelessly. Getting up after each ‘failure’. Enjoying the thrill of learning, developing, getting it wrong until you get it right. I am struck by how safe my life is and how I never go far beyond my existing comfort zone. Very thought provoking!
We were aided by one member who works with elite athletes and has experience of this world where performance is all. Her role is not to build athletes sporting performance but to support their transition from an elite athlete into a different world when the time comes. I am sure there is a book in that somewhere!
One member described this paragraph from the book as ‘pure gold’ which is a great place to finish:
As children, we had no fear about failure, no anxieties about performing under pressure. We didn’t really understand what pressure was – we’d have a go at something and if it didn’t work, we’d simply try again. We’d throw ourselves into learning without thought of the outcome. We were close to perfect in this way: constantly in the moment, always growing and developing. But as we became adults, we learned about pressure. We learned about failure and its consequences. Many of us grew to fear it, to do what we can to avoid it.
Dave Alred, The Pressure Principle.
In fact she was so inspired by it she wrote her own blog which you may find of interest too