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Performing Under Pressure: Gaining the Mental Edge in Business and Sport by Saul L Miller

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INTRODUCTION: WE ARE ALL PERFORMERS

For over a quarter of a century, I have been fortunate to work with elite performers—people with the talent, motivation, and desire to be the best they can be. In principle, excelling is really quite simple. It is about having a clear idea of what you want to do, acting on that idea, staying focused, and persevering until you make it happen. However, sometimes, something comes between the desire and the doing. That something is often pressure.

It's the sixth game of the World Series and the team at bat is trailing in the Series three games to two. It's the tenth inning and they are losing the game 5 to 3. There are two out and two runners on base. One more out and they will lose the World Series. The batter stepping up to the plate is a seasoned veteran, yet like many competitors, in his desire to excel he sometimes tries too hard, tenses up, and interferes with his performance. Ashe stands at the plate facing the pitcher at that critical moment in the game and the Series, he desperately wants to get a hit, to express his ability. There are 60,000 frantic fans in the stadium, 60 million more watching on television. The atmosphere is electric. The pressure is enormous.

With just one second left in the game and his team losing 29 to 27, the kicker stands poised to kick a 33-yard field goal. The field goal will mean victory. Missing the kick will mean losing the game and probably his job. It is a seemingly routine kick, the kind he made at practice ...

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