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Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most Hardcover – February 24, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"You'll want to incorporate the tips, tools and advice into your life."
-- Success Magazine

"This book is a wonderful mix of empirical studies and firsthand accounts that show how pressure impacts our personal and professional lives."
--Forbes

"An unusually sharp account of work and performing under pressure."
--Financial Times

"Thoughtful and well argued...useful distinction between pressure and stress."
--Los Angeles Times

"Outstanding read! A tremendous guide to handling everyday pressure we all face."
--Don La Greca, ESPN New York Talk Show Host

"Performing Under Pressure offers 22 practical solutions that can help you perform better in a true pressure situation, as well as helping you develop the confidence, optimism, tenacity, and enthusiasm that allow you to do your best on a daily basis." 
--Amy Morin, author 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

"Today’s executive must muster, harness, and manage energy effectively -- avoiding the debilitating effects of pressure. Dr. Weisinger provides sensible, evidence-based tools and techniques for doing just that. Following his guide will allow enhanced leadership performance as well as happier personal lives.”
  --Dr. Victor Tabbush, Professor Emeritus, The Anderson School at UCLA 

“All too often, we choke or crumble under pressure. This book reveals how we can develop nerves of steel.” 
-- Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

"In this excellent book, Dr. Weisinger looks deeper into the mental systems of performance better than I've ever read before.... Every other examination of the topic seems a surface analysis compared to this work.   If you want to go to the next level get this book, read it and keep it handy." 
-- Kevin Elko,  Ph.D.  Consultant for the University of Alabama Football team and author of The Pep Talk 

"A tremendous tool.  Hendrie helps us understand pressure and it’s consequences, then provides a clear cut strategy to help reduce it in our daily lives.”
--Keith Allain, Coach, Yale Hockey Team, 2013 NCAA Champions

"In this priceless new book, Dr. Weisinger has woven together memorable examples from the world of sports and entertainment, scientific research, pragmatic advice and a deep understanding of how to do our best when it matters most, whatever the circumstances. I hope you will read it before your next job interview, sales pitch, performance review, or stakeholders’ meeting …."
-- Mark Anderson, President, ExecuNet

"Performing Under Pressure addresses the issues and skill-building that I consider to be the most important in our lives....  By using the principles in this book, readers will understand that the advice and encouragement I have given rock stars 10 minutes before opening live at Madison Square Garden, to leading actors who wonder if they can deliver when the director says "action," are remarkably similar to the advice I have given to help couples find the courage and poise to live up to the challenges of parenthood, along with the guidance I have imparted to couples ten minutes before their wedding. Handling the pressure of critical moments truly determines a great deal of the life success that each of us can achieve."
--Ronald M. Podell, MD, Author, Contagious Emotions, Founder and Medical Director of the Center for Bio-Behavioral Science in Los Angeles

"Performing Under Pressure
hit so many high notes I immediately ordered it for my daughters (one in law school, one a lawyer) and my mother (beloved Nana to the "Baker's Dozen" and more). A must read for every individual and especially those graced with the honor of educating children in the twenty-first century."
-- Mama Marlaine, Founder Parenting 2.0 Creator, The Life Skills Report Card

"Performing Under Pressure is that rare specimen in the self-help field: a fascinating, research-based, counter-intuitive, and eminently useful book. I was surprised by something in every chapter, and guided to simple steps that are proven to increase confidence, optimism, tenacity, and enthusiasm. My coaching clients and I were benefiting before I had gotten halfway through."
-- Howard Jacobson, PhD, Contributing author of Proteinaholic and host of the Plant Yourself Podcast

"Performing Under Pressure is an incredible resource that is changing the way we think about leadership development in the highly-pressurized context of business school. For our students to flourish at Michigan Ross and sustain their leadership performance after graduation, they must be able to distinguish between stress and pressure and manage both. Short- and long-term pressure solutions, like those described in the book, are becoming more and more essential for our students and alumni as they operate in today's complex and dynamic world. Hendrie and JP have created a terrific handbook that makes a world of research in this area accessible and actionable."
-- Brian T. Flanagan, Managing Director of the Sanger Leadership Center, University of Michigan Ross School of Business

"A great insight for anyone wanting to learn how to perform well when the heat is on. A string evidence base adds to the appeal of the many useful (and practical) messages underlying performance. I would highly recommend!"
--Dr. Veronica Burke,  Programme Director at Cranfield University School of Management

About the Author

HENDRIE WEISINGER, Ph.D.,  is a world-renowned psychologist and pioneer in the field of pressure management, as well as the author of a number of bestselling books. He has consulted with and developed programs for dozens of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, and has taught in Executive Education and Executive MBA programs at Wharton, UCLA, NYU, Cornell, Penn State, and MIT.
 
J.P. PAWLIW-FRY is an international performance coach and advisor to Olympic athletes and senior business executives. Among his clients are Marriott, Unilever, Allstate and the Orlando Magic. Formerly he taught executive education at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.  He is president of the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP), a research firm that trains and coaches leaders and organizations to perform more effectively under pressure.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (February 24, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804136726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804136723
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Sigl on March 5, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
When I pick up a self help book, I am explicitly looking for a clear understanding of the topic matter, some stories to illustrate the points made, and some actual, useful tools to move myself and my clients from where they are to where they want to be. This book delivers on all three. Too many authors just gather information leaving the reader with a "Ok, what now?" feeling. These authors give you actionable methods such as the "split visualization" process outlined in the Confidence section. The specific steps in the Optimism section are also very useful and specific. You will find more information than you can use. I'm working them one at a time and enjoying the results as well as passing them on to others I work with.
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Format: Hardcover
The book starts by attacking the commonly held myth that people perform better under pressure. From there it is full of stories and examples that reinforce the authors' researched discoveries that effective people must factor in the reality that their brain does not like surprises! Utilizing the COTE (Confidence; Optimism; Tenacity and Enthusiasm) of Armor the authors provide practical tools to help busy people in all walks of life perform better under pressure. The rest is left to us - we must practice, practice, practice!

This is a must read for anyone who aspires to reaching their full potential...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book begins with a chapter entitled "The Power of Pressure", which I had never thought about. From there, the Chapters are entitled "The Stress of Pressure", "The Nature of Pressure,"The Anatomy of Choking", and "How Pressure Affects Our Thinking,", "Pressure Traps", and Part 2 is "Pressure Solutions". A great book that tells you everything you might want to know about how pressure might affect you. Great job by this author!
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Format: Hardcover
How well do you handle pressure? Does it cripple your performance? Do you rise to the occasion when the pressure is greater?

The author’s premise in Performing Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most, is that nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity, and performance in every professional and personal arena. That being said, the authors believe that there are things we can do to diminish the effects that pressure has on our performance.

The authors divide the book into three sections. Part 1 discusses the nature and science of pressure. They explain the difference between pressure and stress, and how those differences impact us. They provide insight into why we feel the heat in a pressure moment and how we inadvertently put pressure on ourselves and others. They discuss the phenomenon of “choking” and what causes it, and what pressure does to our brains and how it affects our way of thinking in those situations.

In Part 2, the authors present 22 helpful solutions on how to handle pressure situations. The ideas are helpful and practical, but in some respects, sound counter-intuitive. They include embraicing pressure as an opportunity or challenge rather than a threat, approaching the situation as just another performance rather than exaggerating the significance, and expecting the unexpected. These strategies are easy to understand and can be implemented now for a quick fix.

In Part 3, the authors weave together the material from the first two sections and encourage the reader to develop a COTE of armor. COTE serves as an acrostic for Confidence, Optimism, Tenacity, and Enthusiasm.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has a specific goal: help you get rid of the negative effects of pressure.

I didn't end up caring much about pressure after this book, though. It was the first book that truly convinced me to be an optimist since my fall into pessimism a few years ago.

The book is broken into thirds:

Part One shows exactly how detrimental pressure is in our lives. The authors dispel cultural myths about "clutch" players and pressure actually increasing performance. Pressure (with important differences from stress) never increases performance. These athletes and executives that seem to perform better under pressure are actually just better at mitigating the negative effects of pressure and performing at their natural abilities.

Part One was interesting at points but ultimately boring.

Part Two provides 22 specific ways for you to relieve pressure in certain situations. You've already heard of many of these ideas (focus on the present, listen to music, squeeze a ball, visualize success) but they are all solid reminders. This reads mostly as an extended blog post.

Part Two is worth making a list of to refer to at pressure moments, but felt like a waste when I wasn't skimming.

Part Three is where it's at. Honestly, you could do well by just reading this last section. They outline their strategy for dealing with pressure long-term and it just so happens to be the best four-pillar strategy I've come across for dealing with life in general as well.

They prescribe a "COTE" of armor. That is: Confidence, Optimism, Tenacity, and Enthusiasm. At first glance, this is offensively basic. The authors make important distinctions and use data to get into each of these at a level of nuance I haven't seen before.
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