How to Stay Sharp Under Pressure by Jill Christensen

Maybe you don’t aspire to be the fastest man or woman in the world, like Usain Bolt, but we could all use some tips about how to perform at our best when it really matters.

Dr. Don Greene is a sports psychologist, who has taught more than 1,000 professional dancers and musicians to ace auditions, land dream jobs, and win Olympic gold medals.  Greene believes that it’s possible to train your mind to stay sharp under pressure, whether it’s a COVID-19-related bankruptcy filing, job interview, critical sales pitch, or intense negotiation.

Here are Green’s top four tips:

  1. Pump yourself up in practice sessions.  Do a vigorous activity – like jumping jacks – to increase your heart rate, feel energized, and loosen up.  Then practice.  If you think it would help you improve, video or record yourself and make modifications.  By learning how to loosen up in practice, you can loosen up on the day you need to perform.
  2. Don’t ignore your nerves.  Nerves create adrenaline, a substance that is released in the body of a person who is feeling a strong emotion.  The result?  A faster heartbeat, quicker reactions, and increased energy.  If you embrace adrenaline, you can harness it for good.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection.  Being a perfectionist helps a person get to the top of their field, but micro-analyzing your every move can be crippling.  Instead of striving for perfection, strive for excellence.  If something is out of your control, stop fixating on it.  Focus on what you can control – being the best version of you.
  4. Celebrate your successes.  I love this one, as I believe we are our own biggest champion and supporter.  Celebrate what you did excellently and cut yourself slack for not being perfect.  If you did better this time than last time, you succeeded.

JILL, WHAT CAN I DO?  Pressure is a fact of life.  I’ve read that feeling pressured always comes from the inside, not the outside, but I don’t believe this.  As I wrote about in last week’s blog, executives are notorious for making unreasonable demands, and this phenomenon is largely out of our control.  What we do control is how prepared we are, how we execute, and how we treat ourselves after the big moment.  So take Green’s four tips to heart and allow them to guide you the next time the pressure is on.  And if you have children, share this blog with them, please.  I wish someone would have taught me how to stay sharp under pressure.  It’s a necessary skill.


Jill Christensen is an Employee Engagement Expert, Best-Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker and Top 101 Global Employee Engagement Influencer.

She is one of the most in-demand and top-rated female speakers in the world today.  Named a Top 101 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, she takes audiences on a journey that educates and inspires people to act.  In three short years, Jill has been booked to present her proven strategy to re-engage employees to more than 150,000 people in 21 industries, 38 U.S. states, and seven countries.

A former Fortune 500 business executive with a Six Sigma Green Belt, Jill understands how organizations operate, and what they need to do differently to attract, retain, and engage employees.  This makes her a valuable asset to any organization that wants to increase productivity, retention, customer satisfaction, and profitable revenue growth.

Her book, If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement, is a global best-seller, and her popular weekly blog was named a Top 100 Corporate Blog alongside of Apple and Microsoft.