If You Had One Shot
Managers and coaches will frequently try to motivate individuals and teams by stating that this is ‘your one big shot’, its ‘now or never’ etc. Individuals also frequently engage in this form of self-talk. While the intention behind this approach is positive and understandable, it’s nearly always counterproductive as it intensifies pressure by increasing feelings of potential risk and loss.
When One Shot Thinking Backfires
While pressure can be useful as a trigger for getting started on a task e.g. where someone is procrastinating, the research is clear that for the vast majority of people it undermines their performance.
The problem with feelings of loss and risk is that they have a strong negative impact on our thinking and behavior. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has demonstrated that we are twice as averse to loss as we are to making an equal gain. This results in ‘playing it safe’ and as we sometimes see with sports teams, ‘playing not to lose’.
When working with clients who have an important negotiation, presentation, interview or other high consequence event, I always remind them while it is important they prepare to win, the reality is that there is nearly always another shot. This simple pressure management reality check typically results in an instant exhalation of breath and relaxation of posture and facial expression. The pressure is instantly reduced and performance capability consequently increased.
Martin Soorjoo works with individuals and teams to increase their Performance, Focus and Ability to Manage Pressure