Great athletes are at their best when the pressure is at its highest. From fourth quarter drives to last second shots, quarterbacks and NBA superstars all need the calm gene.

Ordinary leaders are no different.

While the stakes may appear higher on TV, they really are not. What happens on your team is just as important to you, as a franchise athlete’s team is to him.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

If you want to set yourself apart, the best place to start is to learn to stay calm when your circumstances are anything but calm.

The following C.A.L.M. acrostic should help:

C oncentrate on your values. Knowing you stand for something and that you are living a life of integrity will give you confidence when you face a pressure situation. At the end of the day, if you can look yourself in the mirror, knowing you did your best, what others think is irrelevant.

A cknowledge you need help. There is confidence in knowing you have a huddle full of teammates who will help and protect you. That confidence leads to an increase in production and performance. If, on the other hand, the circumstances are all about you, eventually pressure will mount and you will fail.

L earn from your failures. There is a reason rookie athletes usually struggle. They have not had the opportunity to go through the fire of failure. The greatest players are the ones who keep climbing the mountain of pressure until they reach the summit. Rarely does a person get lost on a well traveled road.

M aintain your composure. The best way to do this is to refuse to take yourself and the moment too seriously. There is an old story about the Hall of Fame QB, Joe Montana, walking into the huddle to start a fourth quarter Super Bowl winning drive. He looked up in the stands and then turned back to his teammates and said, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy, the actor, sitting over there in the stands?” Montana’s observation broke the tension in the huddle and the 49ers went on to win. Joe Cool was named the MVP.

Being calm under pressure can take years to master, but it needs to be learned. The reason? Because, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

Leadership Begins at Home,


Who do you know that is a confident, yet calm, leader during pressure situations?

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