Have you ever felt pressure to produce, even when you know you’ve got what it takes?
I was just talking with a friend of mine—Bruce—who is also, like me, an amateur musician. Don’t get me wrong—we’ve both played professionally in the past. But now we each have full-time careers outside of music, although we still play with bands whenever we get the chance.
Bruce was telling me about a time a few years ago when he was visiting a friend of his, ... Continue Reading →
Remember Socrates? Greek fella, lived a long time ago, had a drinking problem (specifically with hemlock)? He also invented this thing called the Socratic Method. (Although, for the record, he didn’t call it that; it was his fan club, much later.)
Anyway, the Socratic Method is, very basically, a technique of asking a series of questions—the answers to which lead, inevitably, to the conclusion the questioner was aiming for in the first place. [Note to philosophy and classics majors: Yes, I ... Continue Reading →
For fifteen years, part of my job was to come up with creative ideas—every week, under extreme time pressure, with roughly a million people watching.
I was good at it.
But I didn’t start out being good at coming up with creative ideas under pressure. I had to learn.
In my case, creative ideas were necessary because I was the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show. In your case, creative ideas are necessary because the outcome of your situation may ... Continue Reading →
Back when I was in high school (or it might have been shortly after; I don’t really remember, and it doesn’t really matter), I got a part-time job at the Don Randall Music Store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was on my very first day that Mr. Randall—in a move that seemed almost like magic to me—taught me a great lesson.
It was the end of the day, and we had just closed the store and locked the glass front doors. There ... Continue Reading →
First question: Have you ever played poker? I mean real poker, with real money at stake. (“Real” money, of course, being a relative term—primarily relative to your current net worth.)
Second question: Have you ever been losing at poker, with real money at stake?
You play differently when you’re losing than when you’re winning, don’t you? That’s because there’s more pressure when you’re losing.
And when the pressure’s on—when the stakes are the highest—we tend to play more conservatively. We take fewer chances. ... Continue Reading →
Have you seen the movie Apollo 13? In case you’re unfamiliar with it, it is not the sequel to Apollos 1 through 12. It’s a nail-biter of a movie that tells the true story of the ill-fated—and almost disastrous—Apollo 13 mission to the moon. At the risk of ruining it for you, the crew of Apollo 13 never made it to the moon. Instead, they nearly died when an onboard explosion made it virtually impossible for them to return safely ... Continue Reading →
Imagine you’re in this situation. You’re a professional hockey player. You’re playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s the deciding game; you’re in overtime. There are 10 seconds left, and suddenly, one of your teammates passes the puck to you.
What would you do? Would you panic? Would you choke? Would you rise to the occasion and save the day?
How would you feel? Nervous? Alarmed? Excited? Confident?
Overtime in the deciding game, 10 seconds on the clock…and it’s all up to you.
That’s ... Continue Reading →
A friend of mine got a flat tire on the way to the airport last week. It was a crisis, and she missed her flight.
I got a flat tire on the way to the airport several years ago. It was an inconvenience, and I made my flight.
What was the difference between the two incidents?
When I have an important flight, I get to the airport ridiculously early. My travel mantra is, “I’d rather be bored at the airport than panicked on ... Continue Reading →
I just saw the new Mission: Impossible movie. I’m not going to give anything away here (because you may not have seen it yet, and besides, I’m not that kind of a jerk), but it is absolutely filled with high-pressure situations!
As in the previous five installments, Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt. And, as in the previous five installments, there’s a lot at stake. What I find interesting, though, is that the three elements that create a high-pressure situation for Ethan ... Continue Reading →