Resilience: The difference maker when pressure is on

What’s the key to turning high potential into high performance and results when the heat and pressure are highest?

It’s resilience, and it’s one of the top ten characteristics of great leaders.

Consider how resilience has played a significant part in your life and career.

It’s the ability to perform well in all situations

Resilience is the ability to perform well, no matter what circumstance you find yourself in.

When you’re resilient, you’re highly responsive to circumstances and flexible in making your way through them.

There are many examples we could each cite from our own lives, and situations we’ve observed.

Let’s consider one situation from the 2012 Olympics in London.

This example of “Get out of your own way to let your best performance through” occurred in the men’s 10-meter platform diving competition.

First, U.S. diver David Boudia barely made it out of the qualifying rounds.

His early performance earned him the 18th and final spot in the medal round.

Next, the slate was wiped clean of prior scores.

Competitors started fresh in the final stretch of the medal round.

Finally, when the pressure was highest, Boudia produced a series of nearly-perfect dives, besting the seemingly unflappable, unbeatable Chinese divers in that particular competition.

The Chinese competitors seemed unable to understand, accept and adapt to having their assumed supremacy (and their expected gold and silver medals) challenged in the final round.

When they, and other competitors, could not adjust to Boudia’s barrage of near-perfection, they lost the gold medal to him…the man who had almost missed the medal round.

Getting out of your own way sounds simple. It’s not.

Why? These are the primary reasons:


This can be a fear of failure, or a fear of success. Or it can be a fear of both.

Either way, fear can be immobilizing.

Bad habits or a poor process

Whether because of bad habits or a bad design or implementation, inefficient and unfocused ways of getting things done stack the odds of success against you.

Disabling and limit-setting beliefs

You or your team may WANT success.

You may diligently WORK TOWARD success.

But if you don’t BELIEVE you can produce and maintain success, or don’t feel that you “deserve” it, you’re far less likely to achieve it.

It’s like trying to run a race with a 100 lb. weight strapped to your back. That weight…actual or imagined…is a burden your competitors may not be carrying.

Expectations that turn out to be wrong

You can plan and prepare for a circumstance that does not come to pass.

And when the situation is different from what you expect, you may not be able to see it, accept it, and adapt rapidly, or enough.

There are cures for these problems

  • Benchmark and learn from the best.
  • Observe others in competition. See how they handle the pressure when the pressure’s highest.
  • Get a mentor. Learn from someone who has been where you’re going.
  • Plan for and practice in all sorts of circumstances…best and worst…to build resilience, muscle-memory and relative fearlessness in your ability to handle many types of situations.

When the pressure is on, your ability to read a situation quickly and accurately, choose and then take actions most likely to succeed, and reach the goal may be one of your most important success skills of all.

Get out of your own way.

Let your best, and that of your team, come through clearly and completely.

Don’t trap or bury your talent.

Tap it.

Turn your full potential into full success, no matter the circumstances.